7 Different Ways to Help Your Heartburn
You can't always prevent heartburn from happening, but you can reduce the chance of a flare-up and ease painful heartburn symptoms when they occur.1 Learn how to help your heartburn with these seven lifestyle tips.
How to Help Heartburn Symptoms
Try some of these small lifestyle changes to help soothe your heartburn.
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Anyone can suffer with heartburn but being overweight increases your chances considerably.2 Even moderate weight gain can exacerbate heartburn symptoms.3 One study found that obese women had almost triple the risk of heartburn and acid reflux.4 Why? Those extra pounds put pressure on your stomach, causing acid to back up into your esophagus.5 The good news is that losing some pounds can reduce heartburn symptoms.5
You can help reduce your chances of suffering from weight-related heartburn by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. Learn about the different foods that cause heartburn so you know what to avoid, or find out more about the most common causes of heartburn.
2. Change Your Sleep Position
If heartburn keeps you awake at night, one of the most straightforward changes you can make is to sleep with your upper body slightly raised. Elevating your head and chest higher than your stomach reduces the risk of stomach acid flowing into the esophagus.6 Try lifting the head of your bed, or sleep on a wedge-shaped pillow.6
Evidence shows that sleeping on your left side can help aid digestion and should naturally help relieve nighttime heartburn.7 Avoid eating before bedtime, as this will also help ease heartburn. Stomach acid is likely to travel up your digestive tract and into your throat if your body is still digesting food when lying down.6
3. Quit smoking
Smoking is a known trigger for heartburn. When you smoke cigarettes or cigars, nicotine, along with thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke, triggers your stomach to produce more acid.8 Smoking also has a muscle-relaxing effect on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). A relaxed LES allows stomach acid to travel up the esophagus, causing heartburn symptoms and potentially damaging the lining of the esophagus.8 Smoking also reduces saliva production, which may also increase your risk of heartburn as saliva helps neutralize stomach acid.8
4. Wear Looser Clothing
You may be surprised to learn your choice of outfit can increase the likelihood of developing heartburn. Having a tight waistband or belt puts unnecessary pressure on your stomach, which can push stomach acid up into the esophagus, triggering painful heartburn.9 Quickly soothe any discomfort if you experience heartburn after eating by taking your belt down a notch or two and using an antacid such as TUMS. Avoid tight-fitting clothing whenever possible, and if your clothes are feeling uncomfortably tight, take it as a cue to wear looser ones or lose a few pounds.
5. Review Your Diet
If you figured eating buckets of fried, fatty or greasy food puts you at a higher risk of heartburn, you would be right.10 Avoiding – or at least cutting down on – high-fat, processed and fried foods will reduce the likelihood of digestive discomfort.10 However, some healthier, nutritious foods are also high in fat and therefore can similarly increase your heartburn risk. The trick is not to avoid healthy fats altogether, but to eat less of them.10
Be aware of other foods and drinks that can raise your heartburn risk, such as citrus fruits, onions, garlic, tomatoes, whole milk, spicy foods, mint, alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated beverages.10,11 Substitute these for heartburn-friendly foods such as oatmeal, potatoes and other vegetables, ginger, lean meats, and seafood.10 Learn more about how diet can cause heartburn.
6. Exercise Properly
Exercising regularly can help you manage your weight and generally keep you healthy. However, certain types of exercise may make your heartburn symptoms worse, and intense exercise is known to exacerbate symptoms of acid reflux.12 Opt instead for calmer activities – such as walking or swimming – that are gentler on your stomach. It's also important not to exercise right after eating or drinking, as this can cause heartburn symptoms to flare up.12
Stress is also tied to heartburn and acid reflux.13 Stress increases stomach acid production, which in turn can cause or exacerbate heartburn.13
Stress can also make it hard for you to stick to your regular daily routine. The result? An uptick in bad habits when it comes to eating, exercise, or taking medication – all of which can trigger heartburn. It's essential to find ways to alleviate the stress, so you can decrease the chances of getting stress-related heartburn. For many of us, an increase in screen time may be contributing to our stress.
While some screens are unavoidable due to work and school, excess screen time and gaming may be increasing your stress. Too much screen time has been linked to sleep problems, anxiety, depression and difficulty in the workplace and classroom. This may be because our brains react to what we see on screen as if it’s happening to us in real time. For example, if you’re always playing intense video games, your body may be in a constant state of fight or flight. If you start to feel the effects of stress creeping up on you, you may need to power down the electronics for a bit.14 If stress is keeping you awake at night and causing heartburn, try our two-in-one TUMS+ Heartburn+ Sleep support supplement for heartburn relief and sleep support.
How to Treat Heartburn with Antacids
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- Acid Reflux/GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). American College of Gastroenterology. https://gi.org/topics/acid-reflux/. Accessed 08/21/23.
- Weight Loss Can Lead to Resolution of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Symptoms: A Prospective Intervention Trial. National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3853378/. Accessed 08/21/23.
- Association Between Body Mass Index and Gastroesophageal Reflux Symptoms in Both Normal Weight and Overweight Women. National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782772/. Accessed 08/21/23.
- Body-Mass Index and Symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux in Women. The New England Journal of Medicine. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa054391. Accessed 08/21/23.
- Weight Loss and Acid Reflux. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/gerd/weight-loss. Accessed 08/21/23.
- Nighttime Heartburn: 12 Sleep Tips. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/features/nighttime-heartburn-sleep-tips#1. Accessed 08/21/23.
- How These 3 Sleep Positions Affect Your Gut Health. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/sleep-effects-digestion#stomach-sleeping. 08/21/23.
- Smoking Can Lead to GERD. Everyday Health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/gerd/gerd-and-smoking.aspx. Accessed 08/21/23.
- Can a tight belt cause any physical harm? Men’s Health. https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19517112/can-a-tight-belt-cause-any-physical-harm/. 08/21/23.
- Foods to Help Your Acid Reflux. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/gerd/diet-nutrition. Accessed 08/21/23.
- What to Drink for Acid Reflux. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/gerd/beverages. Accessed 08/21/23.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease and physical activity. National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16646627. Accessed 08/21/23.
- What Is Stress? The American Institute of Stress. https://www.stress.org/daily-life. 08/21/23.
- Are video games, screen another addition?. Mayo Clinic Health System. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/are-video-games-and-screens-another-addiction. 08/21/23.