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Pyrosis, known more commonly as heartburn, is a sensation that develops when the acidic fluids in the stomach flow upward into the esophagus and throat. This flow is called acid reflux, and the sensation is similar to a burning or stinging. Since it often occurs just behind the breastbone it earned the name heartburn. As the acid irritates the lining of the esophagus, other symptoms like coughing, sore throat, or even vomiting may occur.

Typically, a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter protects the esophagus from acid reflux, but a variety of issues can interfere with its ability to function. For some people, heartburn is a rare issue that barely affects their lives, while others must combat it daily. When acid reflux becomes a chronic issue, medical experts classify it as gastroesophageal reflux disorder or GERD. Other symptoms of GERD, along with heartburn, include chest pain, nausea, difficulty swallowing, pain while swallowing, and chronic cough.

Lifestyle changes like regular exercise and weight loss can improve heartburn symptoms in the long term, but they do nothing to provide immediate relief when heartburn actually develops. For this reason, many people seek out easy, safe, and effective ways of managing their symptoms. Certain home remedies act as practical and immediate solutions that are accessible to the average person. Many of these remedies are simple ingredients that fit into a range of dishes, while others are minor lifestyle adjustments that produce quick results.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a common baking ingredient due to its natural alkaline nature, meaning it can neutralize powerful acids—including the fluids in the stomach. With occasional use, this homemade antacid is a quick and simple way to combat heartburn symptoms. For this method, dissolve a single teaspoon of baking soda in a large glass of water and drink it slowly.

Close-up of baking soda in a glass jar. Bicarbonate of soda.

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Apple Cider Vinegar

Another potential home remedy that many people keep in the pantry, apple cider vinegar has a long history in traditional medicine as a digestive aid. Though no strong evidence supports this, experts feel that consuming small amounts of apple cider vinegar diluted in water is safe. Doctors also recommend that people taking prescription drugs, such as insulin or diuretics, should avoid consuming apple cider vinegar directly.

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Drink Water

Staying hydrated is one of the best things a person can do for their overall health. Drinking water can help clear acid in the esophagus and fight heartburn. Additionally, drinking water helps food pass through the gastrointestinal system, which could prevent acid reflux from happening at all. Rather than gorging with water when symptoms occur, it is best to take small sips throughout the day to stay fully hydrated.

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Chew Gum

Chewing gum is a simple way to stimulate saliva production, aiding in swallowing food and flushing stomach acid from the esophagus. Some older studies suggest that chewing gum for 30 minutes after meals could help limit heartburn. Mint can be an acid reflux trigger for some people, so it may be best to stick to other gum flavors. It is also worth noting that some people report that chewing gum makes their symptoms worse, so this may not be an effective remedy for everyone.

Chewing Gum, Eating, Women.

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Ginger

Particularly in traditional Chinese medicine, ginger has a long history as a folk remedy for a variety of issues. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that could limit future issues with heartburn.

At this time, there are no high-quality studies confirming its effects on acid reflux, but there are many anecdotal claims that support its use. Ginger is an extremely flexible ingredient, so it is simple to include in diets. Some people even eat it raw or pickled.

Ginger root and ginger powder in the bowl

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Bananas

High-fiber foods are some of the best options for fighting acid reflux. Bananas are high in pectin, which is a soluble fiber that helps keep food flowing smoothly through the gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, bananas can help neutralize stomach acid and reduce heartburn. As another bonus, bananas are more filling than other foods. By keeping people full for longer periods, bananas help fight overeating, which is a direct contributor to acid reflux.

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Pineapple

While pineapple is known for being an acidic fruit, some people find that it helps digestive issues like acid reflux and heartburn. One reason for this is that it is a fiber-rich fruit that aids in digestion. Beyond this, the bromelain that gives pineapple its acidic properties could limit inflammation in the stomach. Eating pineapple raw may be too much for people actively experiencing heartburn, but chopping it and mixing it with other fruits or utilizing it in full dishes makes it far more palatable. And, despite the beneficial effects, some individuals do note that pineapple actually triggers their acid reflux rather than fighting it. Starting with small amounts is the best way to safely confirm its effects.

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Yogurt

When it comes to gut health, yogurt is one of the most beneficial foods available. As a food rich in probiotics, yogurt promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut that prevent digestive issues like acid reflux. Assuming it is a regular part of a person's diet, yogurt can also fight inflammation in the stomach. In acute heartburn attacks, yogurt also has a soothing effect and coats the esophagus, protecting it from further acid irritation.

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Licorice Supplements

Licorice root is an old folk remedy that could help some people with heartburn. Some modern research shows that herbal formulas containing licorice provided powerful heartburn relief. This could be due to an increase in mucus that protects the throat or an innate ability of licorice to aid in digestion. However, licorice and licorice derivatives could be dangerous in high doses or if a person is pregnant.

Natural Licorice Root has been used as a dietary supplement for stomach ulcers, bronchitis, as well as sore throat.

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Isotonic Drinks

Also known as sports drinks, isotonic drinks are products that help athletes replace energy, water, and electrolytes they lose while sweating. Though some of these products contain high levels of sugar that could irritate the stomach, they could also be highly beneficial for people with electrolyte imbalances who are experiencing heartburn. Improper electrolyte balance can lead to dehydration, poor muscle contractions, and other factors that affect acid reflux.

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Loosen Your Clothing

Though it may seem like too simple a solution, loosening clothing can alleviate heartburn symptoms. Tight clothing, especially around the waist, constricts the stomach, disturbing pressure and the fluids within. Start by loosening belts and other accessories around the waist and then move on to other clothing. People prone to heartburn may want to change into looser clothing if they plan on eating. In formal settings, replacing a belt with suspenders avoids tension around the belly while still providing support. Many dresses constrict above the belly rather than at the waist or hips, making them ideal for people with acid reflux issues. Additionally, pants with some elastic in the band may provide just enough give to alleviate pressure in the stomach, avoiding heartburn.

Beautiful Caucasian teenage girl, cropped portrait. Young attractive woman with loose red hair wearing blank white T-shirt and black skinny jeans while standing against home interior background

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Improve Your Posture

Posture can also be a major contributor to acid reflux and heartburn. The same study that identified this also found that correcting poor posture directly improved symptoms. It is unclear what aspect of poor posture affects heartburn the most, but people prone to the condition should stand and sit upright whenever possible. If necessary, cushions or pillows can provide additional support to help with this.

Asian woman with poor and good posture on white background

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Elevate Your Upper Body

Along with poor posture, lying down can trigger reflux incidents and cause heartburn. This is particularly true for older adults and heavier people, especially if they lay down too soon after eating. Use pillows to elevate the body from the waist up. Some modern bed frames can raise the upper body without the use of additional pillows, as well.

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Look for Triggers

In many ways, preventing heartburn is more effective than trying to manage it after it develops. Learning personal heartburn triggers and then avoiding them is a simple way to limit bouts of heartburn. For many people, fast food, fried meals, and other high-fat meals are major triggers. Others find that spicy foods irritate their stomachs, leading to reflux. Acidic fruits like citrus or tomatoes may also pose a problem. Tea, coffee, and carbonated drinks also have links to acid reflux.

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Quit Smoking and Avoid Cigarette Smoke

Smoking takes a toll on nearly every major organ in the body, including the stomach. Both smoking and exposure to cigarette smoke can exacerbate gastric issues like heartburn. One reason for this is that smoking encourages inflammation throughout the body, including the throat and stomach. The main reason behind this, however, is that smoking weakens the muscles of the sphincter that protect the esophagus from stomach fluids, allowing them to flow upward into the throat. Though it may be difficult, abstaining from smoking boosts gut health and stops reflux symptoms.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.