Heartburn relief: 8 remedies to treat acid reflux – Insider

Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, occurs when acid backs up from your stomach into your esophagus, causing burning in your chest. It is a common condition, affecting as many as 60 million Americans at least once a month.
Once heartburn starts, it can be difficult to relieve, and your best bet to prevent this discomfort is to avoid trigger foods, like caffeine, chocolate, or carbonated drinks that can bring heartburn on.
However, if you do experience heartburn here are eight ways to relieve it with at-home remedies and medications. 
If you’re lying down when you start to notice symptoms, standing up and walking around may help ease the discomfort, says Ashil Gosalia, MD, a gastroenterologist with the Orlando Health Digestive Health Institute. 
“Gravity can be your friend,” Gosalia says. “The gravity will hopefully push the acid back down where it’s supposed to be.”
You can also use gravity to your advantage by using a few pillows to prop your head up about six to eight inches, says Kaunteya Reddy, a gastroenterologist with Redlands Community Hospital.
Propping your head up can help prevent stomach acid from making its way into your esophagus and reduce the coughing, hoarseness, and throat clearing associated with heartburn, Reddy says. 
There are a few different types of medication you can reach for if you are experiencing heartburn. These include:
The right medication for you depends on the severity of your heartburn. If you experience heartburn every now and then, you should be able to effectively treat your symptoms with an acid reducer, like Tums, or an H2 blocker, like Pepcid.
PPIs are stronger drugs that come with some risks, like an increased risk of heart attacks and kidney disease. If you experience frequent heartburn (at least twice a week for several weeks), a PPI could be an effective treatment option, and you should discuss your symptoms with your doctor. 
Milk is naturally alkaline, meaning it can help counteract the acidity of excess stomach acid backing up into your throat. 
“When you get heartburn, milk can help reduce the effect of the burn by neutralizing some of that pesky acid,” Gosalia says. 
If you want to try drinking milk to relieve heartburn, reach for low-fat or skim milk. The fat content in 2% or whole milk can aggravate heartburn and make it worse. 
Loosening your pants can help alleviate heartburn symptoms by reducing abdominal pressure.
“There’s a reason you sometimes have to loosen your belt after a large meal,” Gosalia says. “It’s to allow your stomach space to expand. When you’re having heartburn, make sure it’s not because your pants or belt are too tight.”
Chewing gum increases saliva production, which causes you to swallow more often. Frequent swallowing can help push acid back down toward your stomach and relieve heartburn symptoms. 
A small 2005 study examined the effects of gum chewing on heartburn symptoms. Participants who chewed sugar-free gum 30 minutes after consuming a meal showed reduced acid levels in the esophagus. 
Bananas are a low acid food, meaning they can help counteract the pain from stomach acid backing up into your throat and esophagus. Bananas can also coat and soothe an irritated esophagus.
A small amount of baking soda mixed with water can neutralize acid and provide heartburn relief, Gosalia says. Simply mix ½ teaspoon of baking soda with four ounces of water and drink.
High doses of baking soda can be harmful, Gosalia says, so check with your doctor before trying this remedy, especially if you are taking any prescription medications or are pregnant. If you are on a sodium-restricted diet you should also steer clear of consuming baking soda since it has lots of sodium. 
Many people experience occasional heartburn after eating a big meal or consuming spicy foods. You can help relieve heartburn once it starts by getting up and walking around, taking an over-the-counter acid reducer, eating a banana, or drinking milk.
You can also take steps to prevent heartburn by avoiding foods that can cause heartburn, like chocolate, caffeine, and spicy foods. Avoiding eating late in the evening and limiting your intake of alcohol can also help prevent heartburn