How to Stop Heartburn Fast: The Best Natural Remedies
Heartburn is a burning sensation in your chest that often occurs after eating. It’s caused by acid reflux, that is, the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus.
Statistics show that one in 10 Americans experience heartburn symptoms every week. If you’re one of them, it’s essential to find ways to soothe your acid reflux and prevent it from getting worse.
Here’s what you can do:
How to Stop Heartburn?
There are several things you can do to stop heartburn:
- Use home remedies — Chew sugar-free gum, eat a ripe banana, mix baking soda with water, or add ginger to your food.
- Take over-the-counter medications — Antacids, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors.
- Loosen your clothing — Wearing tight clothing can put pressure on your stomach and exacerbate heartburn.
- Adjust your sleep position — Sleeping on your left side can reduce heartburn pain.
- Don’t slouch — Good posture prevents heartburn. To sit straighter, use cushions or similar items to prop yourself up.
What Is Heartburn?
Heartburn is a condition that causes a characteristic burning sensation behind the breastbone. It occurs when the base of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach) is exposed to stomach acid.
Heartburn isn’t a disease but a symptom of certain conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers, hiatal hernia, or pregnancy.
The Main Causes of Heartburn
Before we tell you how to get rid of heartburn, let’s take a look at the main causes:
- Eating large meals
- Lying down right after eating
- Eating fried, spicy, or fatty foods
- Drinking alcohol, coffee, or carbonated drinks
- Stress (when you’re stressed, levels of “prostaglandins,” the substances that protect the stomach from acid irritation, drop and cause heartburn)
- Obesity/being overweight (extra body fat can increase pressure on the stomach, leading to the backflow of acid)
Other causes of heartburn include hiatus hernia (when part of the stomach bulges through the diaphragm muscle) and peptic ulcers (open sores that form on the lining of the stomach or small intestine).
Home Remedies for Heartburn
There are several things you can do at home to relieve heartburn:
- Chew sugar-free gum — Chewing gum promotes saliva production, which helps neutralize stomach acid. It also helps send a message to the brain to tell the stomach to stop producing acid. According to a study, people that chew gum for half an hour post-meal have fewer occurrences of heartburn.
- Eat a ripe banana — Ripe bananas have natural antacid properties.
- Mix baking soda with water — Since baking soda neutralizes the acid in the stomach, it can help relieve heartburn. Add one teaspoon of baking soda to your glass of water and drink it.
- Add ginger to your food — Ginger is a natural stomach soother that can help you with heartburn. Add ginger to your food or drink it in tea form. However, you should avoid ginger ale. Carbonated beverages can trigger heartburn, and many ginger ales use artificial flavoring instead of natural ginger.
Does milk help with heartburn?
There’s some evidence that milk can help neutralize stomach acid and relieve heartburn due to its high calcium and protein content.
However, milk also contains fat, which can actually worsen heartburn. So, while nonfat milk can provide immediate relief, milk with 2% fat can do the opposite and aggravate your heartburn.
Over-the-Counter Medications for Heartburn
Several OTC medications can help with heartburn:
- Antacids — Antacids like TUMS, Rolaids, and Mylanta neutralize stomach acid and provide relief from heartburn.
- H2 blockers — H2 blockers such as Zantac and PEPCID AC can reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces.
- Proton pump inhibitors — Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid also reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces, providing immediate heartburn relief.
On the other hand, some anti-inflammatory medicines (e.g., ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen) can irritate the stomach and result in heartburn.
If you experience heartburn from antibiotics, there are a few things you can do:
- Take probiotics.
- Eat fermented foods — Fermented foods (e.g., yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, etc.) contain probiotics that help balance the levels of good and bad bacteria in your gut.
- Eat fruit and vegetables — Fruit and vegetables are rich in fiber and nutrients that can help support a healthy gut.
How to Prevent Heartburn?
The best way to prevent heartburn is by making lifestyle changes and avoiding food and beverages that trigger it.
Here are some tips:
- Avoid eating 2–3 hours before going to bed.
- Avoid drinking alcohol (especially red wine) — Alcohol relaxes the lower esophagal sphincter, leading to heartburn.
- Avoid trigger foods (tomatoes, citrus fruits, chocolate, black pepper, garlic, raw onions, coffee and caffeinated drinks, peppermint, fried food, spicy food). Instead, opt for foods that prevent acid reflux:
- High-fiber foods (e.g., oatmeal, sweet potatoes, asparagus, etc.)
- Alkaline foods (e.g., cauliflower, banana, nuts, etc.)
- Watery foods (e.g., cucumber, herbal tea, watermelon, etc.)
- Quit smoking. One of the most natural remedies for heartburn is to simply stop smoking. Besides being harmful to your overall health, smoking can also lead to heartburn by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter and reducing saliva production.
- Lose weight. Excess fat around the abdomen puts pressure on the stomach, which causes fluid to travel up into the esophagus, causing heartburn.
- Loosen your clothing — Wearing tight clothes puts pressure on your stomach, which can then cause heartburn because the food doesn’t digest the way it should. So, you should avoid wearing shapewear, tight waist belts, and skinny jeans.
- Adjust your sleeping position — Sleeping on your back can worsen heartburn symptoms. On the other hand, sleeping on your left side can provide indigestion relief since it prevents stomach acids from rising. You should also raise the top of your bed (not just your pillows) by six inches. This way, when you lie down, gravity will help keep acids in your stomach where it belongs.
- Maintain good posture — Did you know that poor posture can also lead to heartburn? Slouching puts pressure on your stomach, which can then cause the stomach acid to come back up. So, the best way to prevent heartburn is to sit up straight.
If you want to stop heartburn, you should start by changing your habits and avoiding trigger foods. You can also try over-the-counter medications or natural remedies.
If your symptoms persist, see your doctor to rule out any potential underlying health conditions.
Does water help with heartburn?
Water can neutralize and dilute the stomach acid that’s causing heartburn. It can also wash away any irritants from the esophagus.
However, you should avoid drinking too much water, as this can increase the amount of stomach acid your stomach produces.
Is acid reflux the same as heartburn?
No, acid reflux and heartburn aren’t the same. Acid reflux is a condition in which stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux that causes a burning sensation in the chest.
What causes heartburn?
A few things can cause heartburn, such as eating spicy foods, stress, lying down after eating or wearing tight clothing. Heartburn is also more likely to occur if you are overweight, smoke, or if you take anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen.
How to stop heartburn?
Eat smaller meals, avoid trigger foods, or try over-the-counter medications.