Heartburn suffers know the feeling: that burn that sits in the middle of your chest or hits you right between the shoulder blades. Even worse, severe heartburn known as acid reflux can travel up your esophagus and keep you awake at night for hours or lead to vomiting. What should you do when the pain hits? Instead of reaching for the medicine bottle, try these natural remedies to keep the burn at bay.
1. Sleep on Your Left Side
Whether it’s because acid levels stay farther away from the esophagus or because the sphincter between your esophagus and your stomach relaxes when you sleep on your right side, sleeping on your left side isn’t just for pregnant women. Studies have shown that sleeping on your left side lowers nighttime heartburn symptoms, whereas sleeping on your right side tends to make symptoms worse.
2. Drink a Glass of Low-Fat Milk
Have you ever noticed that the main ingredient in many heartburn medications is calcium carbonate? It’s true. These medications can be taken as calcium supplements even by people who don’t suffer from heartburn. One nasty side effect from these medications, however, is constipation. For a more natural way to get your calcium boost and stop heartburn in its tracks, try downing a glass of milk instead. The liquid will coat your esophagus and quickly calm down the acid in your stomach.
3. Stay Away from Tomato Sauce
Pasta lovers take heed: red tomato sauce is a powerful heartburn trigger. Tomatoes contain high levels of acid, which can cause severe symptoms for people who suffer from the malady. If you need your pasta fix, try moving your pasta dishes to the lunch hour instead of your evening meal — the extra time between the pasta and your bed can lessen the burn. Another alternative is to leave the tomato sauce behind and opt for creamy sauces or toss your pasta in olive oil and herbs instead.
4. Reach for the Saltines
Another remedy shamelessly taken from pregnant women, saltine crackers help cure more than morning sickness. The sodium bicarbonate in the crackers helps tame heartburn, and it is even used in prescription heartburn medications. For another source of sodium bicarbonate, try reaching for a handful of pretzels instead.
5. Chew a Piece of Gum
When heartburn hits, reach for a piece of chewing gum to help stimulate saliva that can neutralize the acids in your stomach. The constant saliva production also helps wash down acids that may already be in your esophagus. To help your teeth, stay away from sugary gum and opt for sugar-free varieties that contain xylitol. Also stay away from mint flavors, since mint can actually trigger a bout of heartburn. Along those lines. …
6. Change Your Toothpaste
If you suffer from nighttime heartburn, your toothpaste might be to blame. While it might make your breath smell fresh, mint toothpaste can increase symptoms in heartburn sufferers. Luckily there are a wide variety of toothpaste flavors on the market today in addition to mint, including cinnamon, bubble gum, citrus, and fennel.
Just because you get heartburn doesn’t mean you have to continue suffering. If your heartburn doesn’t go away after trying these remedies, or you frequently suffer from severe heartburn and nausea, consult with your doctor. You might be suffering from GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, which can lead to cancer if left untreated.
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