Other Options for Heartburn

Lifestyle Modifications:

Whether you have occasional or severe chronic heartburn, the following basic lifestyle changes may help you manage your heartburn and benefit your overall health.

  • Don’t lie down 2-3 hours after eating.
  • Raise the head of your bed 4-6″.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Make time for physical activities, like a walk around the block.
  • Reduce stress by taking 15 minutes out of your day to relax or meditate.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat hard butterscotch or caramel candies (not peppermint).
  • Wear looser-fitting clothes and looser belts around your waist.
  • Avoid food and drinks that make heartburn worse.

Can certain medications make heartburn worse?

Certain medications can make heartburn worse because they either promote acid production, relax the lower esophageal sphincter (L.E.S.), or reduce saliva.

Ask your pharmacist or doctor if anything you’re taking contributes to your heartburn, such as:

  • Painkillers, like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen
  • Hormone progesterone (used in birth control pills and postmenopausal therapy)
  • Anticholinergics (prescribed for high blood pressure)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (prescribed for depression)
  • Calcium channel blockers (prescribed for high blood pressure)
  • Theophyilline (prescribed for asthma)

Should I take medication?

If you have frequent or severe heartburn your doctor may prescribe a medication. Some (called over-the-counter medications) are available at your local pharmacy and others (called prescription medications) are available through your local doctor.

  • Over-the-counter antacids, like Mylanta®, neutralize stomach acid on contact and offer fast but short-lived relief from heartburn symptoms.
  • Over-the-counter H2-blockers, like Pepcid AC®, last longer than antacids, suppress the amount of acid in your stomach, and can be taken before meals to prevent heartburn.
  • Proton-pump inhibitors reduce the amount of acid in the stomach, are very effective for persistent cases of heartburn, and are available by prescription only.
  • Also by prescription, prokinetics speeds the movement of food through the digestive tract and strengthens the lower esophageal sphincter (L.E.S.).

Remember, whether you’re on medication or not, lifestyle changes such as eating good foods, getting exercise, and managing stress, are an important part of feeling better. Talk to your doctor about choosing the best treatment plan.