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Heartburn/GERD Health Center

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Treatment Tips for Occasional Heartburn Sufferers

If you generally have an iron stomach, here’s how to deal with occasional heartburn symptoms.

Lifestyle Tips to Stop Heartburn continued...

o Peppermint, spearmint, and other mint products

o Carbonated drinks

o Orange, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits or juices

o Tomatoes, tomato sauce, and ketchup

o Mustard, pepper, and other spices

  • Cut back on alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol and caffeine can irritate the stomach and esophagus and boost stomach acidity. Try cutting back -- or cutting out -- these painful irritants to stop heartburn.
  • Try smaller meals. Big meals, big trouble. Try smaller portions to help your stomach digest food, produce less stomach acid, and move food and stomach acid through your digestive system more quickly.
  • Eat two to three hours before bed. Late-night snacks are out. Going to bed on a full stomach often triggers heartburn, because food and stomach acids can pool at the base of your esophagus and cause irritation. Try eating earlier, and then let gravity speed the passage of food through your system as you're up and around, before lying down in bed.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking is a well-known trigger for heartburn. It's never too late to quit, and you'll probably be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you feel relief from heartburn symptoms.
  • Lose weight. Being overweight puts mechanical pressure on your stomach and can slow stomach emptying. That's why pregnancy often causes heartburn. If you're overweight, try losing weight slowly and safely, and see if your heartburn symptoms disappear along with the pounds.
  • Cut back on aspirin and pain relievers. Aspirin and most pain medications -- except acetaminophen -- trigger heartburn. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about alternative pain relief if you're taking these medicines. Or experiment with taking your aspirin or pain reliever at different times of the day -- with meals, after meals, just before bed -- and see if that helps stop heartburn.

Over-the-Counter Heartburn Relief

For that rare attack of heartburn, what can you take?

One way to suppress stomach acid is to take an antacid with calcium carbonate, says O'Brien. "If heartburn is only intermittent, that's usually the first option," she says.

You'll find calcium carbonate in most over-the-counter antacids at the drug store.

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