If your heartburn keeps returning, it’s important to know what to do.
You are getting ready to sit down to dinner and realize it’s taco night. While this would make most people jump for joy, if you suffer from heartburn then the idea of eating anything spicy may preemptively make your chest hurt. You want to enjoy your favorite foods but you know you’re going to pay for it later. If this sounds like you, a gastroenterologist can provide some simple solutions for how to tackle your heartburn.
Treating Heartburn Yourself
Before turning to a gastroenterologist you may wish to try controlling heartburn on your own. There are some simple lifestyle approaches you can take to manage mild to moderate heartburn symptoms such as,
- Not eating 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Eating slowly and mindfully (to prevent overeating)
- Staying away from certain foods (e.g. chocolate, caffeine, tomatoes or spicy foods) that could aggravate your symptoms
- Losing excess weight, if needed
- Limiting alcohol
- Quitting smoking
- Waiting two hours after a meal before exercising
- Not wearing clothes that are restrictive or put pressure around the waist
Nothing Seems to Be Working. Now What?
If these habits don’t improve your heartburn, then it’s time you turned to a gastroenterologist to figure out what is going on and how to treat this problem. Often, a prescription medication like a proton pump inhibitor or a stomach acid reducer is better equipped to target your symptoms and reduce stomach irritation than over-the-counter remedies.
Plus, over-the-counter heartburn medications might be great for treating the occasional bout of heartburn, but shouldn't be used more than twice a week. If you find yourself dealing with heartburn two or more times a week, then this is also a sign to see a gastroenterologist.
Keeping a diary while making these simple lifestyle changes is a great way to determine what helps your symptoms and what makes them worse. If you do keep a heartburn diary be sure to bring it with you to your doctor's appointment so your gastroenterologist can gain as much insight into your heartburn issues as possible.
If you’re suffering from heartburn and can’t seem to manage your symptoms on your own then it’s time you turned to a gastroenterologist who can figure out whether you could have GERD. If left untreated, GERD could lead to more serious complications, so it’s important to get evaluated by a medical specialist.