Acid reflux (Heartburn) is when stomach acid or bile escapes from your stomach and irritates the lining of the esophagus. Such cases can range from mild irritation to severe pain, and if left untreated, can have long-term negative effects, including cancer.
Heartburn is very common and very unfriendly. It can make you feel as though someone has lit a small fire in your chest, and it’s burning its way up to your neck.
Medications can help calm the burn, but natural heartburn remedies and lifestyle changes may be another way to get relief.
Acid Reflux affects 60% of the population at varying degrees, according to Social & Scientific Systems.
Symptoms And Causes Of Heart Burn
The trademark symptom of acid reflux is heartburn. Heartburn is a burning sensation behind your breastbone that sometimes travels up your throat. In some cases, this discomfort or pain can be severe enough to be mistaken for a heart attack.
Predictably, acid reflux is thought to be caused by excessive amounts of acid in your stomach.
Acid-blocking drugs are typically prescribed or recommended for acid reflux, which has turned out to be a serious medical misconception that adversely affects hundreds of millions of people, as the problem usually results from having too little acid in your stomach.
After ingesting food, it passes through your esophagus into your stomach, a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter closes, preventing food or acid to move back up.
Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes inappropriately, allowing acid from your stomach to flow (reflux) backward into your esophagus.
It’s important to understand that acid reflux is not a disease caused by excessive acid production in your stomach.
Furthermore, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection has been identified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Many who have a hiatal hernia also have H. pylori, which cause a chronic low-level inflammation of your stomach lining that can result in an ulcer and associated symptoms.
Also, beware that certain prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can also cause heartburn. Such common culprits include anxiety medications, antidepressants, antibiotics, blood pressure medications, nitroglycerin, osteoporosis drugs, and analgesics (pain relievers).
If your heartburn is caused by a medication you’re taking, the answer is to address what, when, and how you’re taking that drug, but please, do not make the mistake of simply adding yet another drug to counteract this side effect.
Safe and Effective Home Remedies for Heartburn and Acid Reflux
A number of strategies can help you get your heartburn under control:
Ginger is amazing for all kinds of health-related issues and can help relieve motion sickness and improve blood circulation. Ginger helps ward off heart disease, improves your immune system, and helps you fight bacterial infections.
Ginger can help calm an upset tummy or stop it from even occurring, and can also help you ward off acid reflux. Just place a few thin slices of ginger root tea in a mug and steep in hot water for 10 – 20 minutes, then drink.
Baking Soda has a high pH level, that helps neutralize acid in your stomach. If acid is rising from your stomach into your esophagus, the baking soda can help you to stop the acid from burning the lining. Simply swallow a teaspoon of baking soda when you’re experiencing pain or signs of acid reflux.
Chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva, and as you swallow this excess saliva, it helps dilute and clear the acid from unwanted areas, which can significantly reduce your symptoms of heartburn, and provide relief.
Almonds help relieve acid reflux, and many patients have seen significant benefits from snacking on these tasty nuts. It’s best if the almonds you are consuming are raw, organic and salt-free, as that also helps you avoid consuming any harmful chemicals.
Watch Your Weight
When a patient is overweight, more pressure is put on all of their internal organs, including your stomach. Over time, this can loosen the valve between your stomach and esophagus, allowing acid to escape back to the esophagus.
Stay Away From Spicy Food
Just the way your tongue burns when it comes into contact with an extremely hot pepper is the same thing that occurs in your stomach. This burning sensation triggered by spicy foods can trigger acid reflux symptoms, resulting in pain and discomfort.
Some of the spicy foods to avoid if you commonly experience acid reflux include hot peppers, hot sauce, horseradish, wasabi paste, red chili pepper flakes, cayenne, and Chili Powder
Aloe is typically associated with soothing burns, but, it can also help soothe the inside of the body. By drinking a glass of aloe vera juice, you can calm your esophagus, limit inflammation, and stop irritation.
Try some of these tips to help you deal with heartburn or avoid it altogether:
- Stay upright and avoid bending over or bowing, especially after meals; since keeping yourself in an upright position will help your body keep the digestive acids in your stomach.
- Sleep on your left side when lying down, and by doing so; you can keep the acid from coming back up by letting it pool farther from the esophageal sphincter.
- Eat smaller and more frequent meals, since eating smaller portions of food at intervals helps your stomach digest food more efficiently and also regulates the production of digestive enzymes.
- Eating smaller meals will also help you prevent forcing the lower esophageal sphincter to open due to the excessive food deposited in the stomach.
- Eat a Banana or Apple: An apple a day could keep your acid reflux at bay. Both bananas and apples contain natural antacids that can help relieve or stop an onset of acid reflux.
- Quit smoking: smoking is one of the leading causes of heartburn. This is because of the nicotine, which causes the sphincter to relax and allow stomach acid to rise.
- Avoid Alcohol: alcohol weakens the valve between your stomach and esophagus, and also causes your stomach to produce an excess of stomach acid, which can cause severe stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Another commonly used “natural” heartburn remedy is calcium.
If you find yourself popping antacids and you’re having heartburn more than a couple of times a week, or if you are using antacids for longer than a period of two weeks, it’s time to see the doctor, as you may have a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Frequent heartburn can lead to long-term problems and can cause inflammation and strictures in your esophagus.
In rare cases, frequent heartburn may even lead to cancer, but stopping the acid reflux on time, and in totality, can help prevent complications in the future.