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If you’ve ever felt a burning sensation in your throat or in your chest after eating, odds are, you’ve experienced heartburn. Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, occurs when your esophageal sphincter does not close properly after eating, leading to acid flowing back up your esophagus.
While unpleasant, you aren’t alone: over 60 million Americans experience heartburn monthly. Unfortunately, it may cause more than just discomfort. Untreated reflux can increase your risk factor of certain types of cancer.
Many things can contribute to experiencing heartburn: eating acidic, spicy, fatty, or large meals are common causes. Acidic foods include soda, lemons, limes, grapefruits, sugar, grains, and fresh and processed meats. Spicy foods, such as salsa, in combination with other ingredients such as meat, tomatoes, or onions, can explain why you may feel heartburn after eating a burrito, for example.
There are many things that can be done to help eliminate heartburn, and there are ways that Direct2Care can help!
Be mindful of what you’re consuming that may give you heartburn
Becoming conscious of what foods you are eating or drinks you are drinking giving you heartburn can help you manage your heartburn in the future. While not foolproof, being mindful that things such as spicy food give you acid reflux can help prevent it in the future.
Pay closer attention to hunger and body cues
Paying closer attention to how hungry you are and noticing when you are full can help prevent heartburn, as overeating may lead to acid reflux.
For example, it may be beneficial to eat a lighter breakfast, and have a snack before lunch — same goes for before dinner. Additionally, research has found that eating at least three hours before bed may prevent heartburn.
Laying down or slouching after eating has been found to increase symptoms of heartburn. Making sure you are sitting up straight while eating and not laying down afterward may reduce your symptoms of heartburn.
Frequency of heartburn
If you’re experiencing very occasional heartburn and find relief with an OTC medication such as antacid tablets, this is a reasonable option. If you’re experiencing frequent or recurrent symptoms, we recommend consulting a provider. Despite the availability of OTC medications to treat reflux, it is still not recommended to use these treatment options long term without seeking medical advice. Stomach acid is supposed to be acidic, and intentionally changing this over time can set you up for a variety of complications, including vitamin and mineral deficiencies as well as increased susceptibility to infections. Additionally, if you’re experiencing frequent or severe reflux, you may benefit from screening for H. pylori, a bacteria that causes stomach ulcers.
To see a provider anytime, use the Direct2Care mobile app, downloadable from the Apple App Store or Google Play, to consult with one of our board-certified providers. If needed, one of the clinicians at Direct2Care can order labs, prescribe medications, or recommend you to a local specialist.