People who suffer from heartburn know all too well how it got the name. While it may have nothing to do with your ticker, symptoms of indigestion often mimic those of a heart attack — chronic coughing, burning pain behind the breastbone, a clogged sensation in the throat or chest. But even though heartburn isn’t a medical emergency, it’s anything but benign. Some cases stem from gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) — a chronic release of peptic juices into the esophagus, which can cause bleeding, scarring, even cancer. Try these neutralizers:
Chew gum. A cavity-fighting behavior that reduces acidity, recent studies suggest chewing sugarless gum has a similar effect on GERD. Acid levels dropped in participants who chewed gum for 30 minutes after eating a large, fatty meal.
Elevate. Try to remain upright in the hours following a meal, and prop your pillows up at bedtime to reduce the effects while you sleep.
Avoid classic triggers. Certain foods are famous for assaulting your gut — like chocolate, peppermint, onions, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and fried or spicy dishes. Alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and nicotine will also increase symptoms.
Consider natural methods. Some homeopathic experts suggest that too little, not too much, acid production is the culprit. Apple cider vinegar and sea salt are touted by testimonials to be effective in relieving symptoms, and probiotics can stabilize stomach flora.