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Quiz: Heartburn Myths and Facts

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Heartburn hurts your heart. 

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Heartburn hurts your heart. 

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If you’ve had heartburn, you know that burning feeling in your lower chest. But despite what it’s called and where it hurts, the pain has nothing to do with your heart. Heartburn happens when a muscle at the end of your esophagus -- the pipe that carries food from your mouth to your stomach -- doesn’t close properly. Stomach acid creeps back up that pipe, causing irritation. 

 

It’s a common problem: About 40% of adults in the United States have heartburn at least once a month. 

 

Along with discomfort, you may also have a bitter or sour taste in your mouth and throat. Symptoms can last from a few minutes to a few hours. 

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Chewing gum can help heartburn.

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Chewing gum can help heartburn.

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When you chew gum, your mouth makes more spit. That acts as a buffer to acid. You also swallow more when you chew gum, and that pushes acid down. 

 

Smoking can make things worse. You’re likely to make less spit and more stomach acid.

Using a lot of pillows when you sleep can make heartburn better.

Using a lot of pillows when you sleep can make heartburn better.

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If your heartburn is worse when you lie down, try raising the head of your bed so your head and chest are higher than your feet. But don’t do it with pillows. That can put your head at an angle that can put more pressure on your stomach, making things worse. Instead, try putting 6-inch blocks under the bed posts at the head of the bed. 

 

Sleeping on your left side also can help. Studies show lying on your right side can make heartburn worse. The left position seems to put less pressure on the muscle connecting your stomach and esophagus. 

If you are overweight, the best way to stop heartburn is to drop some pounds.

If you are overweight, the best way to stop heartburn is to drop some pounds.

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Numbers on the scale matter more than what you eat. Pressure on your stomach from too much weight can allow acid up into your esophagus. A study by doctors at Stanford University who reviewed more than 2,000 studies about heartburn found no evidence that giving up foods makes it better. But losing a few pounds really does help. 

 

That said, if you know something gives you heartburn, don’t eat or drink it.

You’re most likely to have heartburn when you:

You’re most likely to have heartburn when you:

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You set yourself up for heartburn when you overeat, and lying down after a meal makes it worse. Tight clothing, control top panty hose, and body shapers can also put pressure on your tummy, so if you’re worried about it, wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes. 

Taking antacids too much can cause:

Taking antacids too much can cause:

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Antacids that you can buy at the drugstore can give you quick relief, but if you depend on them too much, they may cause other problems: constipation or diarrhea. Look for the kinds that contain magnesium hydroxide or aluminum hydroxide. They are less likely to cause digestion problems. 

 

For more frequent heartburn, you can try stomach acid-reducing medications. Always follow the directions. If you have a lot of heartburn, you should see your doctor.

Which exercise is most likely to cause heartburn?

Which exercise is most likely to cause heartburn?

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Sit-ups, leg lifts, and crunches, which put pressure on your stomach, can trigger heartburn. But don’t use that as an excuse to stay out of the gym. There are plenty of exercises you can do.

How long should you wait between dinner and going to bed?

How long should you wait between dinner and going to bed?

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It’s never a good idea to go to bed on a full stomach. Spreading out the time between dinner and hitting the sack will give stomach acid time to settle. 

 

Don’t rush your meals, and don’t eat so much that you are uncomfortable. Try eating four or five smaller meals instead of three large ones.

What can you do if your heartburn gets worse after exercise?

What can you do if your heartburn gets worse after exercise?

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Water helps digestion. If your heartburn is worse after you go to the gym or come back from a jog, try drinking more before and during exercise.

You can have GERD without having heartburn.

You can have GERD without having heartburn.

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If you have heartburn more than twice a week, you might have something called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease. Heartburn is a symptom of GERD, but not always. Hoarseness, a dry cough, trouble swallowing and asthma symptoms are also signs of GERD. 

 

Talk to your doctor if you think you may have this condition. Diet and lifestyle changes, medications, and other treatments can help.

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Your Score:     You correctly answered   out of   questions.

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