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10 ways to prevent heartburn

If your chest feels like it’s on fire after eating, chances are you’re one of the many unfortunate folk suffering from heartburn…

 

One in three UK adults experience heartburn and one in six experience frequent heartburn (occurring twice a week or more). It can have a significant impact on people’s quality of life – from limiting a person’s food and drink choices through to sleep disruption, anxiety from frequent heartburn pain and a general feeling of being unwell.
 
Pharmacist and Nottingham University lecturer Helen Boardman, says: “Frequent heartburn sufferers experience symptoms twice a week or more, which can not only affect their day to day quality of life but also leave them feeling like they have no control over their heartburn; finding a way to manage their symptoms can make a real difference.” 


What can you do? 

Steer clear of heartburn triggers
Triggers vary from person to person but common triggers include citrus drinks, high-fat foods, onions and chocolate. Cutting down on alcohol, coffee and fizzy drinks can also help.
 
Wait for two to three hours after you eat before sleeping or laying down
This gives your stomach a chance to process your meal and move it through your digestive system. Your stomach will then be empty and less likely to reflux when you lie down. Eating a smaller and lighter dinner is also a good idea.
 
Slow down at mealtimes
Eating too much, too quickly, can increase heartburn so take your time eating and enjoy mealtimes.  Feeling stressed or rushed when you eat can also cause the stomach to produce more stomach acids.
 
Know your triggers
Using a diary to keep track of when heartburn hits can help you understand what is aggravating your heartburn symptoms.  
Quit smoking
Cigarettes can make heartburn even more painful. Not only can cigarette smoke irritate your throat, it also relaxes the oesophageal muscles that keep stomach acid where it belongs.
 
Get moving
Taking regular exercise can often help (although certain abdominal exercises like stomach crunches can push acid out of the stomach, causing heartburn). It’s best to wait at least two hours after a meal before exercising.
 
Control your portions
Eating too much can aggravate heartburn, so opt for smaller portions where possible.
 
Watch your weight
If you’re overweight, losing excess pounds can help relieve your symptoms.
 
Sleep with your upper body elevated
Lying down can enable the entry of acid into the oesophagus so many people find their heartburn is worse at night.  Try raising the head of your bed approximately 15 cm (six inches) with some books or blocks. You can also try a wedge pillow.
 
Try a PPI medicine
There are a plenty of over-the-counter treatment options available. Antacids and alginates offer temporary relief from symptoms.  If you’re a frequent heartburn sufferer, you may want more sustained relief, so try a PPI medicine, such as Nexium Control which will block acid production in the stomach, and provide a 24-hour relief from symptoms​. PPIs targets heartburn by blocking acid production in the stomach and so can provide relief of symptoms over many hours. 

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