How can I control heartburn?

Marisa Moore
Nutrition & Dietetics

Heartburn is very common but also preventable. Try these strategies to reduce the discomfort and potentially damaging effects of acid reflux over time.

  • Lose weight. Although normal weight individuals get heartburn, obesity increases the risk.
  • Avoid the foods that cause heartburn. Common culprits include spicy foods, fatty foods, highly acidic foods like tomatoes and orange juice, onions, mint, chocolate and alcohol.
  • Eat smaller meals.
  • Don’t eat too close to bedtime. A full belly at bedtime is a recipe for heartburn disaster. Instead, have your last meal 3 hours before you go to bed.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing. Clothes that fit too tightly around the waist can put pressure on the abdomen increasing the likelihood of heartburn. 
  • Elevate the head of your bed. This simple positioning can help keep stomach acid in the stomach instead of creeping into the esophagus while you sleep.
  • Don't smoke.
Jill A. Grimes, MD
Family Medicine

Ifyou're having heartburn on a regular basis, limit the causes of heartburn, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
There are certainly a plethora of medicines that can treat reflux, from over-the-counter antacids to expensive proton pump inhibitors, and they all work very well. However, why not address the cause of the problem?

Heartburn comes from stomach acid sloshing back upward into the esophagus rather than flowing downstream. This happens when the sphincter -- the band of tissue that surrounds the connection between the esophagus and the stomach -- relaxes. What causes it to relax?

Tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and peppermints all relax that sphincter, letting our stomachs feel less distended, but allowing acid reflux in the process. Remember this when the waiter sets your mints down as he refills your coffee with dessert.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Although heartburn does occur in skinny people, abdominal fat and overeating can put undue pressure on the stomach forcing contents upwards. If symptoms coincided with recent weight gain or if you are overweight (Body mass index: BMI, 25.0-29.9) or obese (BMI, 30.0) losing 10 lbs can offer up some relief. You might also try consuming smaller and more frequent meals rather than one big one. Keep belts lose and avoid restrictive clothing and undergarments.

This content originally appeared on

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.