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Heartburn is a medical condition that occurs when stomach acid travels up and into a person's esophagus. The result is a painful, burning sensation that may be accompanied by coughing and difficulty breathing. There are many home remedies that can be used to treat and prevent heartburn, such as avoiding alcohol and certain foods, eating smaller meals, engaging in regular exercise, and maintaining an overall healthier lifestyle. Over-the-counter antacids and certain prescription medications can also be used to prevent heartburn symptoms. Most cases of heartburn are occasional and mild, though frequent heartburn may by a sign of a more serious condition.
Individuals who experience occasional heartburn can usually find relief by watching what they eat and making simple changes to their daily routines. Certain foods and drinks are known to contribute to heartburn symptoms, including spicy dishes, fried food, black pepper, chocolate, soft drinks, and orange juice. Most people can benefit from avoiding overconsumption of specific foods that are known to trigger their heartburn. Many people also find that quitting smoking and limiting their consumption of alcohol are very effective ways to prevent heartburn episodes. Other preventative measures include exercising regularly and establishing a consistent sleeping schedule.
Heartburn symptoms are more likely to occur when an individual is under excessive stress and anxiety. Relaxation techniques, music, and massage therapy are often quite effective at reducing the frequency of heartburn episodes. Other home remedies a person may use to prevent heartburn include elevating his or her head when lying down, wearing loose fitting clothing, avoiding large meals just before bedtime, and chewing gum to produce extra saliva in the throat.
There are several different types of over-the-counter medication that can be used to prevent heartburn. The most popular nonprescription medications are antacids, which help to neutralize stomach acid and prevent it from surging up the esophagus. Antacids can take the form of pills, chewable capsules, or tablets that dissolve in liquid. Other medications can be used to reduce the production of new acids when taken daily.
People with severe or frequent heartburn should seek the guidance of licensed physicians to provide proper diagnoses and recommend the best treatment. Doctors commonly prescribe high-strength antacids and medicines called histamine blockers that prevent acid production and heal damaged tissue in the esophagus. Chronic heartburn can be a symptom of another, more critical medical condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease. When problems are immediately identified and diagnosed by doctors, appropriate treatments can be prescribed to prevent serious complications and surgeries.