You know what heartburn is or you know someone who has experienced heartburn. Heartburn is where your body causes the contents of the stomach to flow back up into the esophagus. The valve that controls this action is known as the lower esophageal sphincter or the LES. Heartburn happens when the LES is relaxed and the acids from the stomach reflux into the esophagus and irritate the delicate lining of the esophagus. There are many ways to treat heartburn.
As heartburn is caused by certain conditions or foods, then avoiding those factors may help to treat heartburn by easing your symptoms. Some of those triggers are having large amounts of food, especially before you go to sleep. Other food triggers tend to be like citrus fruits and juices, spicy and highly seasoned foods, raw onions and vinegar.
Drinking caffeine laden drinks like coffee, decaffeinated coffee and colas contribute to heartburn as well. Teas and alcohols can also activate heartburn in your body.
Lifestyle habits need to be changed also in order to treat heartburn. You should not lift heavy items after you have had a meal. The pressure that is put on your stomach may cause the stomach acids to reflux into the esophagus if the LES is in a weakened condition. Stressful situations like this should be avoided altogether as this can induce heartburn.
There are other various types of lifestyle conditions that can increase the risk of heartburn. These conditions include pregnancy, hiatal hernia, being obese, gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, and even certain types of medications.
There are ways that you can treat heartburn at home. These methods include your deciding to make some lifestyle and dietary changes. They also include taking, over the counter antacids like Tagamet, Pepcid AC, Zantac and even Prilosec. Antacids are used because they have the chemical ingredients to neutralize the acid buildup in the stomach.
Then the use of a foaming antacid like Gaviscon is very helpful to treat heartburn. As Gaviscon floats on the top of the stomach contents, when acid reflux occurs it is the first substance to come into contact with the esophagus.
Acid reducers or acid blockers may help to control and treat the symptoms of heartburn.
These medications are part of a class of drugs called Histamine receptor blockers and they are available in over the counter and prescription strengths forms. They work by reducing the amount of acid in the stomach.
When these acid reducers can no longer control or treat heartburn then you should consider using Proton Pump Inhibitors or PPI's. Most PPI's are available only by a prescription from your doctor, and work by shutting down the acid production within your stomach.
All these drugs and antacids, I've mentioned, as well as the dietary and lifestyle changes, can take you a long way on the road to treat heartburn. And finding what works for you, should be your first step on this road.