You may eliminate or reduce the frequency of heartburn by
making the following lifestyle changes:
Control your weight.
Being overweight is one of the strongest risk factors for heartburn.
Excess pounds put pressure on your abdomen, pushing up your stomach
and causing acid to back up into your esophagus.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
Three smaller meals a day, with small snacks in between, will help
you stop overeating. Continual overeating leads to excess weight,
which aggravates heartburn.
Loosen your belt.
Clothes that fit tightly around your waist put pressure on your
abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter.
Eliminate heartburn triggers.
Everyone has specific triggers. Common triggers such as fatty or
fried foods, alcohol, chocolate, peppermint, garlic, onion, caffeine
and nicotine may make heartburn worse.
Avoid stooping or bending.
Tying your shoes is OK. Bending over for longer periods to weed your
garden isn't, especially soon after eating.
Don't lie down after a meal.
Wait at least three to four hours after eating before going to bed,
and don't lie down right after eating.
Raise the head of your bed.
An elevation of about 6 inches puts gravity to work for you. You can
do this by placing wooden or cement blocks under the feet at the
head of your bed. If it's not possible to elevate your bed, you can
insert a wedge between your mattress and box spring to elevate your
body from the waist up. Wedges are available at drugstores and
medical supply stores. Raising your head only by using pillows is
not a good alternative.
Don't smoke. Smoking may increase stomach acid. The swallowing of air during
smoking may also aggravate belching and acid reflux. In addition,
smoking and alcohol increase your risk of esophageal cancer.
Complementary and alternative medicine
Several home remedies exist for treating heartburn, but
they provide only temporary relief. They include drinking baking soda
(sodium bicarbonate) added to water or drinking other fluids such as
soda pop or milk.
Although these liquids create temporary relief by
neutralizing, washing away or buffering acids, eventually they aggravate
the situation by adding gas and fluid to your stomach, increasing
pressure and causing more acid reflux. Further, adding more sodium to
your diet may increase your blood pressure and add stress to your heart,
and excessive bicarbonate ingestion can alter the acid-base balance in