Signs and Symptoms
1. Chest pain, especially after bending over or lying down.
2. Mild pain in the upper abdomen.
3. A burning feeling in the chest, just behind the breastbone, that occurs after eating and lasts from a few minutes to several hours.
4. Burning in the throat; or hot, sour, or salty-tasting fluid at the back of the throat.
5. Belching (sometimes).
What to do now
1. Many physicians recommend taking over-the counter remedies such as antacids for occasional heartburn. But don’t take antacids without first checking with your doctor if you have high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, kidney disease, intestinal problems, chronic heartburn, or any symptoms of appendicitis. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should consult a physician before taking any medication, including antacids.
2. Trying these natural alternatives can help:
1. Drink ginger tea for quick relief.
2. Avoid lying down for two to three hours after eating. If you must recline, lie on your left side; in this position, your stomach is lower than esophagus, so the acids are less likely to back up.
3. Cut down on coffee, smoking, and excessive alcohol.
4. Practice relaxation techniques to help relieve stress.
5. Raise the head of bed four to six inches by putting something like pillows or phone books under the mattress, or by placing a foam-rubber wedge under your bottom sheet.
When to call a doctor
1. If you have severe chest pain or pain radiating into your arms and shoulders. This could be a signal of heart attack.
2. If you’ve tired the suggestions above, but your symptoms persist.
How to prevent it
Many of the remedies for heartburn will also help prevent it. In addition:
1. Maintain a reasonable weight.
2. Avoid foods and drinks that can aggravate the problem. These may include tomatoes, garlic, onions chocolate, coffee and tea, alcohol, peppermint, and carbonated drinks.
3. Cut down on dishes that are high in fats and oils.
4. Avoid eating just before bedtime.
5. Get plenty of rest and exercise.
6. Eat small, frequent meals (four or five a day) instead of three large ones.
7. Avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, and other non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
8. Don’t smoke. Nicotine relaxes a muscle that allows gastric juice to escape from the stomach into the esophagus.