If you experience heartburn, you know the feeling well: a slight hiccup, followed by a burning sensation in your chest and throat. It may be triggered by the foods you eat, particularly spicy, fatty, or acidic foods. Jalapeño nachos with extra salsa or deep-fried onion rings are common culprits. Or perhaps you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, a chronic condition with many potential causes.
Whatever the cause, heartburn is uncomfortable and inconvenient. What can you do when heartburn strikes?
We’ll go over some quick tips to get rid of heartburn, including:
- wear loose clothing
- stand up straight
- elevate your upper body
- mix baking soda with water
- try ginger
- take licorice supplements
- sip apple cider vinegar
- chew gum to help dilute acid
- stay away from cigarette smoke
- 10. try over-the-counter medications
Heartburn happens when the contents of your stomach rise up into your esophagus, where stomach acids can burn the tissues. In some cases, you might be having an episode of heartburn because tight clothing is compressing your stomach. If that’s the case, the first thing to do is loosen your belt — or your pants, dress, or whatever else is holding you tight.
Your posture can also contribute to heartburn. If you’re sitting or lying down, try standing up. If you’re already standing, try standing up more straightly. An upright posture puts less pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), reports Harvard Men’s Health Watch. Your LES is a ring of muscle that helps stop stomach acid from rising into your esophagus.
Lying down can make heartburn worse. When it comes time for bed, adjust your sleeping surface to raise your upper body. According to the Mayo Clinic, lifting your head with extra pillows isn’t usually enough. Instead, the goal is to elevate your body from the waist up. If you have an adjustable bed, set it at a suitable angle to provide relief. If your bed isn’t adjustable, you can change the angle of your sleeping surface by using a wedge pillow.
You might have a heartburn remedy at hand in your kitchen, without even knowing it. Baking soda can calm some episodes of heartburn by neutralizing your stomach acid. Dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it slowly. In fact, you should drink everything slowly when you have heartburn.
Consider adding grated or diced ginger root to your favorite stir-fry recipes, soups, and other foods. To make ginger tea, steep raw ginger root, dried ginger root, or ginger tea bags in boiling water. It’s probably best to avoid ginger ale. Carbonated beverages are a common heartburn trigger, and most brands of ginger ale are made with artificial flavoring rather than the real thing.
Licorice root is another folk remedy that’s been used to treat heartburn, reports Harvard’s Healthbeat. It might help increase the mucous coating of your esophageal lining, which may protect your esophagus from damage caused by stomach acid.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is available at many pharmacies and health food stores. This supplement contains licorice that’s been processed to remove much of its glycyrrhizin, a compound that can cause adverse side effects.
Eating too much licorice or DGL may raise your blood pressure, lower your potassium levels, and interfere with certain medications, advises the NCCIH. Always talk to your doctor before taking licorice or DGL supplements.
Apple cider vinegar is another folk remedy that some people use to treat heartburn. One study found that drinking diluted apple cider vinegar after a meal might help alleviate heartburn for some people. However, these effects didn’t reach the level of statistical significance.
More research is needed to learn if apple cider vinegar is useful for treating heartburn. If you decide to try this folk remedy, dilute the apple cider vinegar with water and drink it after your meal.
According to an article published in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics, chewing gum for half an hour after meals may also help reduce heartburn. Chewing gum stimulates saliva production and swallowing. This might help dilute and clear stomach acid from your esophagus.
You probably already know you shouldn’t smoke. But did you know that smoking can contribute to heartburn? If you’re a smoker and you get an attack of heartburn, don’t light up. Smoking might be a go-to coping strategy when you’re uncomfortable, but it’s not going to make that burning feeling go away.
There are plenty of over-the-counter (OTC) heartburn medications that you can find at just about any pharmacy or grocery store. These medicines come in three classes: antacids, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs and H2 blockers reduce how much acid your stomach secretes, which can help prevent and reduce heartburn symptoms. Antacids neutralize stomach acid.
When heartburn hits, many over-the-counter treatments, home remedies, and lifestyle adjustments may provide relief. Adjusting your daily habits can also help prevent heartburn symptoms from developing in the first place. For example, try to:
- avoid common heartburn triggers, such as fatty and spicy foods
- eat at least three hours before bedtime
- avoid lying down after eating
- maintain a healthy weight
If you experience heartburn more than two or three times a week, talk to your doctor. In some cases, they might prescribe medications or other treatments.