Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Heartburn/GERD Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Prevent and Manage Heartburn

Heartburn relief can be achieved by some simple lifestyle and diet changes. Here are some suggestions for preventing and managing heartburn.

  • Don't go to bed with a full stomach. Eat meals at least 2 hours to 3 hours before lying down -- this will give food time to digest and empty from your stomach, and acid levels a chance to decrease before you lay down.
  • Don't overeat. Decrease the size of portions at meal times or try eating 4 to 5 small meals instead of 3 large ones.
  • Eat slowly. Take time to eat -- don't rush. Try putting your fork down between bites.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes.
  • Avoid heartburn triggers. Stay away from foods and beverages that trigger your heartburn symptoms (for example, onions, peppermint, chocolate, caffeinated beverages such as coffee, citrus fruits or juices, tomatoes, or high-fat foods). A good way to figure out what foods cause your heartburn symptoms is to keep a food diary.
  • Shed some pounds. If you are overweight, losing weight can help relieve heartburn symptoms.
  • Stop smoking. Nicotine, one of the main active ingredients in cigarettes, can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that controls the opening between the esophagus and stomach, allowing the acid-containing contents of the stomach to enter the esophagus.
  • Avoid alcohol. If your aim is to unwind after a stressful day, try exercise, meditation, stretching, or deep breathing instead of drinking alcohol.
  • Keep a diary or heartburn log. Keep track of when heartburn hits and the specific activities that seem to trigger the incidents.

 

Recommended Related to Heartburn/GERD

Understanding the Basics of GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can be thought of as chronic symptoms of heartburn. The term refers to the frequent backing up (reflux) of stomach contents (food, acid, and/or bile) into the esophagus -- the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. GERD also refers to the array of medical complications, some serious, that can arise from this reflux. Though it causes discomfort, occasional heartburn is not harmful. About 20% of adults in the U.S. experience GERD symptoms such as heartburn...

Read the Understanding the Basics of GERD article > >

If Your Heartburn Is Worse When Lying Down:

  • Raise the head of your bed so that your head and chest are higher than your feet. You can do this by placing 6-inch blocks under the bedposts at the head of the bed. Don't use piles of pillows to achieve the same goal. You will only put your head at an angle that can increase pressure on your stomach and make your heartburn worse.
  • Eat earlier. Try not to eat within 3 hours of going to bed.

 

If Your Heartburn Worsens After Exercise:

  • Time your meals. Wait at least 2 hours after a meal before exercising. If you work out any sooner, you may trigger heartburn.
  • Drink more water. Drink plenty of water before and during exercise. This will help keep you hydrated.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on February 23, 2014
Edited by Venkat Mohan, MD on September 01, 2006
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Heartburn illustration
Slideshow
Heartburn Control Assess Your Symptoms
Assessment
 
heartburn foods
Slideshow
Nighttime Heartburn
Article
 
digestive health
Slideshow
Heartburn or Heart Attack
Article
 
heartburn
Article
Top 10 Heartburn Foods
Video
 
Is it Heartburn or Gerd
Video
digestive myths
Slideshow
 
Extreme Eats
Slideshow
graphic of esophageal area
Article