HomeHealthArchivesJul 2007



Fire in the Belly

If you've ever settled down after a big meal, and within minutes were up and running for the antacid, then you've "felt the burn"-heartburn. Sixty-one million Americans experience it at least monthly and 25 million daily, according to Health Journal. Most live with it, enduring a burning in the chest that radiates up towards the throat, accompanied by a sour taste in the mouth. To relieve the discomfort, they just take one of many available over-the-counter medications. Yet there are ways to douse the fire before it gets started.

Heartburn actually has nothing to do with the heart. It's caused by food backing up from the stomach into the esophagus, carrying with it strong, corrosive stomach acid.

One way to prevent it is to sleep with your upper body elevated, even more than by just using pillows. Try positioning wedges under your bed's legs.

Another tip is to avoid foods that stimulate acid secretions, like the caffeine in coffee or soft drinks, or foods that are themselves acidic, like oranges, grapefruit and tomatoes. Certain foods tend to relax the muscle that keeps the acid in your stomach. These include chocolate, peppermint and alcohol.

People who rely on antacids enjoy much faster relief from the liquid form; its coating action soothes the esophagus on the way down. For fast relief with tablets, chew well.