On Heartburn

What causes heartburn?  

While causes vary, this is what makes you more prone to heartburn:

  • Super spicy or fatty foods

  • Eating too quickly

  • Eating too much in one sitting

  • Being pregnant

  • Smoking

I have heartburn. Now what?

Heartburn can put a large dent in your enjoyment of the holidays, but it’s easily remedied with a few simple precautions:

  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of one big meal

  • Taste small portions of everything

  • Save leftovers instead of trying to eat it all

  • Cut down on alcohol and tobacco

  • Sleep with extra pillows behind you

  • Take over-the-counter medicine, which act fast and can even prevent heartburn

This time of year, “holiday heartburn” is common. You are eating different types of foods and much more food than usual. While for some it can feel like a scary thing — the burning or heaviness in your chest or neck — for the most part, heartburn can be managed.

Understanding what heartburn is, its possible causes, first line treatments and when to ultimately see a doctor can help you feel more in control this holiday season. At least, more in control of your symptoms, although maybe not your expanding waistline.

Quick fixes

Heartburn occurs when contents in your stomach — food or acid — back up into your throat. While it’s not life threatening, heartburn (sometimes called reflux) can certainly disrupt your quality of life. Causes of heartburn are usually from certain foods (think super spicy or fatty), eating too quickly, or eating too much in one sitting, although there are other causes and risk factors. Being pregnant, a smoker or above 60 years of age can also make you more prone to heartburn.

However, there are things you can do right now to feel better: try eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of one big meal; tasting small portions of everything; saving leftovers instead of trying to eat it all; and cutting down on alcohol and tobacco. You can also try sleeping with extra pillows behind you or taking over-the-counter medicine, which act fast or even prevent heartburn. Talk to your pharmacist about which product is right for you.

Warning signs

While heartburn is common — something experienced by millions of Americans every year — there are times when it can be a sign of something more serious. If you are still feeling the burn after two weeks of trying at-home remedies, you need to call and make an appointment with a gastroenterologist. They can help get you stronger medicine and give you other treatment options to help relieve your heartburn.

Beat the burn and enjoy your holiday season.