Heartburn Relief
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Heartburn Relief

Heartburn Relief

If you are looking for heartburn relief, then there are two general ways to think about it: short term relief and long term control.

Short term heartburn relief focuses on neutralizing acid and preventing it from getting into your esophagus. Long term control focuses on reducing the amount of acid the body produces.

Short Term Heartburn Relief

When looking for rapid heartburn relief from heartburn, the most immediate benefits come from products containing bicarbonate, which neutralizes acid. This includes products like Tums and Malox as well as home remedies like baking soda and chewing gum. Chewing gum works by promoting saliva production (saliva contains bicarbonate).

One step up from antacids in terms of potency are H2 blockers like Zantac, Pepcid, and Tagament. These over-the-counter medications work by reducing the amount of acid the stomach produces.

They are considered short term heartburn relief because they start working in 10 to 20 minutes and their effects only last a few hours.

Another step to achieving rapid heartburn relief is to position your body so that it is as vertical as possible. This allows gravity to play as much of a role in keeping acid in your stomach and out of your esophagus as possible. Tips include:

–    Sit up while eating

–    Do not lie down or recline for at least one hour after eating

–    Avoid eating at least one to two hours before bed

–    Prop the head of the bed up about six inches (warning, this can cause back fatigue)

Long Term Heartburn Relief

Lifestyle changes are very effective in promoting long term heartburn relief. The most effective changes revolve around diet, but also include smoking cessation and exercise.

Smoking actually decreases the strength of the muscle that prevents acid from getting out of the stomach and thus increases the frequency and severity of heartburn.

Exercise has been shown to be highly effective in reducing heartburn over the long term. Dietary changes that work include avoiding the following things:

What Causes Heartburn

–    Peppermint

–    Caffeine

–    Chocolate

–    Tomato

–    Citrus Fruit

–    Onions

–    High-fat foods

–    Soft drinks

–    Alcohol

Beyond avoidance, it is also wise to eat smaller portions and eat as far before bedtime as possible. Many experts in heartburn relief suggest eating six small meals per day and including a lot of fiber in your diet. Fiber absorbs stomach acid, thereby reducing the amount available for reflux.

If food avoidance and lifestyle changes do not bring about heartburn relief, then there are two other long term remedies. The first is a class of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors.

These medications, which include Prilosec, Prevacid, and Protonix, actually bind to and prevent the little pumps in the stomach that make acid from working. The only way for the body to get rid of these drugs is to destroy the pumps and make new ones.

This is very effective in reducing acid production, but requires adherence to a daily medication regimen and takes anywhere from 4 days to a week to work.

The final long term option is surgery. The procedure, which is called a Nissen Funduplication, tightens the muscle that prevents acid from leaving the stomach.

Basically, the surgeon wraps the stomach around the muscle in an effort to tighten it up. This procedure is effective, but carries the risks that are common with surgery.

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