$5 Heartburn Healers
Heartburn occurs when your esophagus is irritated by backed-up stomach acid. Normally, when you swallow, food passes down your throat, through the esophagus and then past the sphincter, which acts as a “door” into the stomach. Next, the sphincter closes and the stomach releases acids to help break down the food. Heartburn is caused when the sphincter opens too often or does not close tight enough. Then stomach acid backs up, which causes the painful, burning sensation.
If chronic heartburn is ignored, the esophagus can become red, thick and scarred. Additionally, persistent heartburn can raise your risk for esophageal cancer. See a doctor if you have heartburn more than twice a week; this may be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Over-the-counter medications for heartburn can run up a pricey tab. Below are $5 healers for your heartburn:
- Antacids: 1 box of dissolvable antacids will cost you about 99 cents. Chewable tablets will also neutralize acid.
- Sugar-Free Lozenges: Sucking on lozenges increases saliva production, which may help to clear and neutralize stomach acid. One bag is around $3.
- Crunchy Foods: Eating crunchy fruits and veggies like celery, apples and carrots increases saliva production and neutralizes acid.
Avoid these heartburn triggers:
- Peppermint and Chocolate: Despite their deliciousness, these candies contain caffeine, which stimulate the regurgitation of acids.
- Garlic: Can cause acid to pass back up through the sphincter.
- Belts: Compression of the stomach and sphincter may contribute to acid backup.
- Control Top Underwear: The tight compression literally squeezes the acid into the esophagus.
Other heartburn tips:
- Do Not Eat 3 Hours Before Bed: If your heartburn ever keeps you up at night, gravity may be playing a role; lying down may slow the contractions of your stomach. Make your last meal 3 hours before bed.
- Books Under the Bed: Use books under the legs of your bed to keep your head elevated; 6 to 8 inches is ideal. This incline helps prevent acid from backing up.