Have you ever had a burning, painful feeling in your
stomach that spreads upwards after you eat something fatty or
spicy? Well, that's heartburn. When food or liquids come back up
your throat or into your mouth it is called reflux.
Heartburn and reflux are common problems. Heartburn is not usually serious but reflux may cause problems like changes in the throat that may lead to cancer.
Too much gastric juice causes heartburn. Another main cause of heartburn is the use of antibiotics or drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen. It can also occur if we eat too soon before going to bed or from wearing clothes that are too tight around the stomach area.
If you have heartburn often, be sure to consult your doctor. It can be a sign of illnesses such as gastritis or gastric ulcers.
If you are experiencing heartburn or reflux, a few modifications in your habits may help:
- Avoid eating citrus fruits, chocolate, tomato sauce, ketchup, pepper, mustard and vinegar.
- Avoid drinking coffee, black tea, alcohol, and soft drinks.
- Have dinner two or three hours before going to bed.
- Avoid wearing tight fitting clothing.
- Raise the top end of your bed 4 to 6 inches.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Don’t smoke.
- Avoid eating large meals. Eat smaller, frequent meals.
- Avoid taking aspirin and most pain relievers (except acetaminophen).
Since stress may also contribute to heartburn: do some aerobic exercise every day, or learn some relaxation techniques. Meditation, yoga or creative mental pictures may also help relieve stress.
Seek medical attention right away if you have black or blood-stained vomit, black stool, sudden weight loss or difficulty swallowing food. These signs might indicate more serious problems.
Finally, try not to take too many over-the-counter drugs. Many people, when they get heartburn, reach for an antacid. These temporary solutions do not solve the problem. You should make the necessary changes to your diet and routine, and talk with your doctor.
*Dietitian form MyDiet™ Team
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