Heartburn is one of the most common gastroenterological conditions. In fact, gastro-oesophageal reflux, as it is known medically, affects approximately 11.6% of Australians.
Heartburn or acid reflux refers to the medical condition where acid from the stomach escapes into the oesophagus. This happens when the ring of muscle at the bottom of the oesophagus, known as the oesophageal sphincter, becomes weak.
This post dives into a list of potential heartburn remedies. Given that certain treatments affect each individual in a different way, patients must consult a specialist before they attempt to self-medicate with these treatments.
Research in this area of gastroenterology has shown that undigested carbs may cause bacteria to multiply, increasing pressure inside the stomach. This makes patients feel gassy and bloated.
In light of this, it is believed that low-carb diets may be effective in alleviating symptoms of heartburn, such as stomach pain, belching, and even bad breath.
Given that eliminating carbs completely isn’t practical, there are a number of antibiotics that reduce symptoms of heartburn by eliminating certain types of gas-producing bacteria in the stomach.
One of the most effective heartburn remedies is to cut down on coffee. This is because caffeine is known to weaken the oesophageal sphincter, allowing acid to enter the oesophagus easily. Certain studies have even show that drinking decaffeinated coffee reduces symptoms of heartburn.
When doctors ask their patients to maintain a healthy weight, many mean the weight that allows them to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. What it doesn’t mean is losing an excessive number of pounds in the hopes of achieving an unhealthy ideal.
Being overweight makes acid reflux worse because it adds pressure to the abdomen. When this happens, the lower oesophageal sphincter gets pushed away from the diaphragm, causing what is known as hiatus hernia to take place. This leads to acid reflux.
Maintaining a healthy weight, therefore, is very likely to improve symptoms of heartburn.
For a temporary and more immediate fix, chewing gum is known to reduce the unpleasantness of acid reflux.
Chewing gum contains bicarbonate that is believed to be effective in reducing the acidity in the oesophagus. Moreover, as gum is being chewed, saliva production picks up, further reducing the amount of acid in the throat.
This, however, isn’t a long-term solution - it can only reduce immediate discomfort.
One of the most unpopular heartburn remedies is the restriction of alcohol and carbonated drinks. As is often the case in the medical world, treatments that are unpopular tend to be some of the most effective.
Carbonated drinks increase belching among those with heartburn, which, in turn, leads to symptoms of acid reflux. The carbon dioxide in these beverages is what causes the belching, increasing the acid entering the oesophagus.
Alcohol can also trigger heartburn because it increases the content of stomach acid. This loosens the oesophageal sphincter, allowing acid to escape into the oesophagus.
Heartburn remedies are available in abundance all over the internet. However, patients need to be mindful about the remedies they try without medical guidance.
For effective treatment, consulting a specialist is of the utmost importance. Acid reflux is a serious condition as it can increase the risk of Barrett's oesophagus and oesophageal cancer and it requires proper treatment and management.
Dr Suhirdan Vivekanandarajah is a trained interventional gastroenterologist and hepatologist. Head to his website to discover more information on heartburn and other gastroenterological conditions.
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