In a nutshell? Heartburn is a burning sensation in the middle of the chest caused by acid reflux (which is when stomach acid moves up towards the throat). So try to keep note of when it usually strikes, such as after eating a particular food, so you can avoid it in future. Apologies in advance for being a party-pooper, but here are some common causes: coffee, tomatoes, alcohol, chocolate, fatty or spicy food. Yup, always the fun stuff.
Big meals put a strain on the muscle that’s responsible for stopping stomach acid travelling up into the chest/throat (hello, heartburn!), so eating little and often can really help. Which is perfect, actually, if you’ve got a few Zoom parties booked in throughout the day.
Nicotine can relax the valve that’s supposed to prevent stomach acid and juices (the chemicals that break down your food) from rising upwards.
Even if you’ve overdone it on the pork pies and want to run it off, you still need to allow a few hours for things to settle down before doing vigorous exercise (even bending down to tie up your trainers can unsettle things)!
Take that last bite of food at least three hours before you hit the sack or you could be at risk of reflux. And nobody wants to end up dreaming of regurgitating sausage rolls, do they?
Unfortunately, one of the side effects of some medicines is that they can cause reflux or heartburn-type pain. So talk to your GP or a pharmacist.
Research from the USA suggests chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after meals. This encourages saliva, which helps neutralise acid, and makes you swallow more, which washes it back down into the stomach. Clever.
If you’re a side sleeper, train yourself to avoid lying on your right: it can aggravate and prolong reflux symptoms, according to research. Experts aren’t sure why, but they believe it may be something to do with the position of the stomach vs the oesophagus.
On your bed, that is, not your shoes! Try raising the head of your bed or mattress by 10-20cm by propping something under it so your chest and head are above your waist. That’ll help stop that pesky stomach acid travelling north.
Say what? We mean loose clothing that allows a little slack in the tummy area (such as something you’d don when there’s a chance of some festive nibbles – geddit?). Because, it’s no surprise that wearing tight clothes around your waist will lead to Heartburn 1 Vs Stomach 0.
Not only can a slumped posture compress your tummy region, but it may also add to your stress. And guess what? Stress can also be a heartburn trigger. So sitting up straight is a double win!
If you don’t want to spend another festive season avoiding even the occasional treat, look no further: the Nexium Control 20mg Gastro-Resistant one-a-day range* can help ease heartburn symptoms within 24 hours**. They’re available in packs of 7 tablets or 14 tablets – and even a 14-pack of easy-to-swallow capsules.
(If your symptoms worsen or do not improve after taking this medicine for 14 days in a row, contact your doctor.)
*For short term use only – Nexium has a maximum duration of 14 days. For adults aged 18 years and over. **Source: 2020 Nielsen data. Value, unit, acid blockers (client defined), 52 w/e 03.10.2020 (GB total coverage); for verification, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org