Simple Ways to Troubleshoot Your Heartburn

Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on September 09, 2021
2 min read

When you set out to outsmart heartburn, it’s not just about the foods you eat -- or when (and how fast) you eat them.

Those things matter. But other, surprising things can make a difference. Try these ideas and see how they work for you.

  1. Fashion fix. Retire your skinny jeans and tight belt. You’ll be less likely to get heartburn if you wear more comfy clothes. So unless your wardrobe has some serious stretch in the fabrics, give yourself plenty of digestion room.
  2. Give your bed a lift. 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 put your body at an angle that can add pressure on your stomach and make your heartburn worse.
  3. Time your workout. Wait at least 2 hours after a meal before exercising. If you work out any sooner, you may trigger heartburn.
  4. Unwind before bed. Do something that relaxes you, whether it’s gentle stretching, meditation, prayer, or just taking a few deep breaths. Don’t have a drink. Alcohol can cause nighttime heartburn.
  5. 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 (move past your stomach and into your intestine) and acid levels a chance to drop.
  6. Stop the starters. Stay away from foods and beverages that trigger your heartburn symptoms. For example, onions, peppermint, chocolate, caffeinated drinks such as coffee, citrus fruits or juices, tomatoes, or high-fat foods bother some people.
  7. Shed some pounds. If you are overweight, losing weight will ease heartburn symptoms.
  8. Stop smoking. Nicotine, one of the main ingredients in cigarette smoke, can weaken the muscle that controls closing the area between the esophagus and stomach. This can lead to heartburn.
  9. Keep a diary or heartburn log. Note when heartburn hits and what seems to trigger it.