Treating Heartburn at Home
If you think you are experiencing frequent heartburn or acid reflux there is a chance that you have gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. But what is acid reflux, and why are you experiencing it so often? Acid reflux happens when the acids from your stomach travel upwards into your esophagus, most often causing a burning sensation in your chest and sometimes even in your throat. Although it’s important to see your Albany physician if you have persistent acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), there are a few home remedies you can use to treat occasional heartburn at home.
For some people, lifestyle changes can reduce the symptoms of heartburn. Changing your eating habits by eating several smaller meals instead of large meals, not laying down within 2 hours of eating, and avoiding chocolate, spicy foods, citrus foods, mint, and alcohol can minimize acid reflux symptoms. If you smoke or chew tobacco products, then it is important that you quit; and if you are carrying around extra pounds, you should try to lose some weight. Elevating the foot of your bed by six to eight inches has shown to help people who experience nighttime heartburn. Further, avoid wearing clothes that are tight around the waist because it can cause undue pressure on the stomach and esophagus.
Medications like antacids, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors are another treatment method for heartburn and GERD. Many people take over-the-counter antacids like Tums, Maalox, and Mylanta for occasional heartburn because they neutralize stomach acids quickly and for up to two hours. Pepto Bismal is another type of antacid that coats the esophagus to create a barrier against acid reflux. On the other hand H2 blockers take longer than antacid to enact their effect, but can provide heartburn relief for up to 12 hours. Proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, can effectively treat heartburn symptoms by reducing stomach acids. PPIs are used after lifestyle changes, antacids, or H2 blockers have failed to provide satisfactory relief. Because some PPIs are available without a prescription and can alter the way other medications work, it’s important to speak to your Albany doctor before taking PPIs.