Heartburn occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes allowing acid to come up from the stomach and irritate the lining of the esophagus. Learning what causes your symptoms can help to alleviate the symptoms of heartburn. Some foods and drinks may be more likely to irritate or cause the lower esophagus sphincter to relax and make heartburn worse. Certain foods such as onions, chocolate, peppermint, fatty foods, citrus fruits, garlic, spicy foods, and tomatoes or tomato-based products may irritate or relax the sphincter muscle in your esophagus causing symptoms of heartburn. It may be helpful to keep a heartburn diary to see what foods you are consuming trigger your symptoms. Other factors that may raise your risk of suffering from heartburn are being overweight, eating big meals, wearing clothing that fits tightly around the waist, and smoking.
Many people suffer the most from heartburn when they lie down to go to bed at night. If this happens to you, you may want to try going to bed without a full stomach. Try eating meals at least 3 to 4 hours before lying down. This added time will give acid levels from eating a chance to decrease before lying down and allowing the acid to travel up to the esophagus. When you eat, try not to overeat. Decrease your portion sizes during meals. Try eating 4 to 5 small meals throughout the day instead of 3 large meals. If you are still suffering from heartburn at bedtime try raising the head of your bed so that our head and chest are higher than your feet. You can do this by placing 6-inch blocks under your bed posts at the head of the bed. We suggest that you don’t use piles of pillows to try and raise your head and chest; this may only put your head at an angle that can increase pressure on your stomach and make your heartburn worse.
If you have tried these diet and lifestyle changes and continue to have heartburn, contact our office and schedule an appointment with one our physicians in the South Ogden or Layton office. Your physician may want to schedule an EGD (a scope that looks at your esophagus and stomach) and make sure that there isn’t something more going on to cause your symptoms. Also, your physician may be able to prescribe a medication that help control your heartburn.