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Lifestyle changes, medication, and diet changes are all possible options for treating heartburn. Making changes in your lifestyle, such as lowering stress, can reduce the frequency of heartburn, lessen the severity of its symptoms, and help prevent heartburn in the first place. Medication can reduce the amount of acid in your stomach, which can also help you feel better. Diet changes involve knowing and avoiding the foods that trigger your heartburn symptoms.

Treatment for Heartburn: An Overview

For a person with heartburn, treatment options may include diet changes, medications, lifestyle changes, or a combination of all three. For people who only get occasional heartburn, over-the-counter medications often relieve the discomfort. Lifestyle changes can reduce the frequency of heartburn, lessen the severity of its symptoms, and help prevent heartburn in the first place.
 
The heartburn treatment recommended by your healthcare provider will depend on a number of factors, including:
 
  • How often heartburn occurs
  • How severe your symptoms are
  • When your symptoms occur
  • How much your symptoms interfere with your life
  • What you have tried in the past.
     

Diet and Lifestyle Changes for Treating Heartburn

Depending on your particular situation, your heartburn symptoms may improve simply by making certain changes to your diet and lifestyle. Many people find that there are several factors that make their symptoms worse, so it may take awhile to experiment and figure out exactly what you need to do to eliminate or reduce your symptoms.
 
For example, your doctor may suggest that you avoid certain foods that make your heartburn worse. Also, you may not want to eat too close to bedtime (see Heartburn Diet). In some people, it helps to make lifestyle changes such as stopping the use of tobacco products (see Smoking and Heartburn) or losing weight.
 
Your doctor may also suggest other lifestyle changes for the treatment of heartburn. For example:
 
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing, which can put pressure on your stomach and worsen symptoms of heartburn.
     
  • Chew gum or suck on lozenges to increase your saliva production, which helps to neutralize acid reflux.
     
  • Reduce stress. Stress can increase both how much acid your stomach produces and the amount of time it takes to empty after eating -- both of which make it more likely for reflux to happen.
     
  • Raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches by putting blocks of wood under the bedposts -- just using extra pillows will not help.
     
While your doctor can give you some suggestions about how to relieve your symptoms, everyone is different. By paying close attention to your diet and activities for a while, you can try to figure out on your own which lifestyle changes might relieve your symptoms.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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