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Heartburn triggers: Heartburn and exercise continued...

Activities such as headstands and yoga moves like downward dog can reverse the natural flow of stomach contents and may trigger heartburn. Jarring exercises, such as jogging or aerobics, can slosh stomach contents around and upward if you have a weak LES.

Heartburn is no reason not to exercise. In fact, weight loss from exercise can actually help heartburn. But never exercise on a full stomach. Doing so increases abdominal pressure, which makes heartburn more likely. Food takes several hours to digest so it really is a matter of what works for you. Most experts recommend waiting about two hours after eating before working out.

 

Heartburn triggers: Heartburn and medications

Many different medications can trigger heartburn, or make heartburn worse. An aspirin here or there is not likely to lead to that fiery feeling. But regular use of aspirin or a popular class of painkillers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may irritate the esophagus. NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naproxen, and prescription Cox-2 inhibitors such as Celebrex. These drugs are often used to treat arthritis.

Several different types of blood pressure medicines can also cause heartburn. Many blood pressure and heart disease medicines, including calcium channel blockers and nitrates, relax the LES muscle, making it easy for your stomach acids to retreat backwards.

Several other types of medications are known to relax the LES muscle and lead to heartburn. They include:

  • An asthma medicine called theophylline, taken by mouth
  • Sedatives
  • Narcotic painkillers
  • Progesterone, a hormone found in some birth control pills
  • Medicines for Parkinson's disease
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Certain supplements such as iron and potassium

Chemotherapy drugs and a class of osteoporosis medicines called bisphosphates can injure the lining of the esophagus and make heartburn more likely. Taking your osteoporosis medicine with a big glass of water and avoiding lying down for 30 minutes to an hour helps to prevent problems.

Always tell your doctor if a new prescription or over-the-counter medicine gives you heartburn or makes your heartburn worse. Your doctor may be able to suggest alternatives.

Tracking heartburn triggers

Heartburn can limit your menu choices, interrupt your sleep, and interfere with your daily activities. Keeping tabs on what you eat and when you eat will help your doctor determine what's causing your symptoms. Then together, you can figure out how to prevent them. You can track heartburn triggers by keeping a heartburn diary. Make sure you include notes about portion size -- and be honest! If you have pain after eating a certain food, write that down, too.

Your diary should include the following information for each day:

  • what you eat and drink, and when
  • time and type of exercise
  • medicines you take and the time you take them
  • if you have pain, and if so, when your pain started (for example, did the heartburn happen after you ate breakfast or took an aspirin?)
  • what the pain feels like
  • what makes it feel better

Remember, understanding your heartburn triggers and learning how to avoid them can help you dodge the discomfort of heartburn. An episode of heartburn every now and then is usually nothing to worry about. But call your doctor if you have severe heartburn that interferes with your daily activities. You may need a prescription medicine to help prevent heartburn. If you have trouble swallowing or develop black stools, see your doctor right away. These could be signs of a more serious condition.