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What’s Causing Your Heartburn?

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what causes heartburn for you Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock

You’re just settling down for the evening, the dishes are done, Jeopardy is starting, but something else is beginning, too, that burning sensation deep in your esophagus.

By the time Alex Trebek announces a winner, you’re very uncomfortable and reaching for the huge bottle of Tums. Once again, you have heartburn.

What is heartburn anyway? Heartburn is the symptom you feel when acid splashes up and out of the stomach. Another word for heartburn is acid reflux.

What triggers heartburn?

Eating too much can bring on heartburn no matter how healthy your diet is. Try eating smaller portions at mealtime and push away from the table before you’re stuffed.

Eating too fast.
Are you constantly feeling rushed and hurrying to eat? Wolfing down your sandwich at lunchtime can kick up heartburn within minutes. Avoid eating in the car, while you’re on the computer, or while standing over the sink. Slow down.

Fatty and Spicy foods.
Unfortunately, some of the tastiest foods aren’t good for your stomach. Sometime comfort foods like hot wings and French fries aren’t comfy for the tummy, and can trigger heartburn. If this happens to you, you may want switch out the fried stuff for something easier on the stomach.

Acidic foods.
Tomatoes are full of acid, so foods like pizza and salsa are killers for people who suffer from heartburn. So are citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit, and dressing with vinegar. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

Drinking Alcohol.
Alcoholic beverages tend to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which leads to heartburn. So once again, having a glass of wine after dinner may help you unwind after a long day, but it may keep you awake at night.

Certain other drinks.
Coffee, tea, and soda, whether it's caffeine or decaf, can also kick up the acid in your stomach. Try cutting down coffee to one cup in the morning, or an herbal tea instead of black tea after dinner. Sometimes a glass of milk can settle the burn as well.

Although dark chocolate is said to be good for you, this doesn’t give you permission to indulge in an entire pan of brownies or a big ol’ Godiva candy bar. If you’re a chocoholic, try keeping some squares of dark chocolate in your freezer. Make it your one treat for the day.

Keeping a heartburn diary is a great way to sort out foods that give you the most trouble. But, if you have persistent everyday heartburn episodes, consider seeing a doctor for the best advice.


Heartburn FAQs. eMedicinehealth.com. Web. 18, June, 2012

Slideshow: Heartburn - Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid. eMedicinehealth.com. Web. 18, June, 2012

Reviewed June 18, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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