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Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease that commonly causes heartburn is characterized by burning chest pain, regurgitation of food, or esophageal inflammation that may even cause swallowing issues.
Successful treatment of heartburn symptoms has been linked with substantial betterment in the quality of life. This is because heartburn can be incredibly bothersome.
The good news is there are at-home interventions you can apply to prevent heartburn.
How to Manage Heartburn at Home
Try the following at-home interventions to relieve heartburn and its associated discomfort.
1. Try herbal cures
The given herbal remedies can help provide relief from heartburn symptoms.
a. Consume fenugreek
Fenugreek contains a broad variety of biologically active chemicals, of which fiber, largely the water-soluble fiber galactomannan, is indicated to be a useful ingredient in the reduction of heartburn and GERD symptoms.
Studies have found that the patients taking fenugreek fiber at 2,000 mg twice every day had reduced heartburn just like those who were on medications such as ranitidine. Fenugreek was also enormously more effective than a placebo in treating heartburn. (1)
How to take fenugreek for heartburn?
- Soak a few fenugreek seeds in water overnight.
- Drink this solution the next morning.
- Do this every day.
b. Use aloe vera
Aloe vera is thought to help relieve ulcer and GERD-related symptoms.
A 2015 study established that aloe vera syrup at 10 mL per day, when compared to usual GERD medication such as ranitidine tablets and omeprazole capsules, was equally adequate in lessening GERD symptoms in patients.
Another study from 2016 found that aloe vera syrup as an adjunct to pantoprazole treatment was substantially more useful in ameliorating GERD symptoms in relation to pantoprazole alone. (1)
How to take aloe vera for heartburn?
Take 20 ml of aloe juice on an empty stomach every morning or at least every 30 minutes before eating.
c. Drink ginger tea
Ginger shows promising results in managing heartburn issues and other symptoms such as nausea and early fullness.
Ginger is known to inhibit intestinal receptors, which further reduces nausea and vomiting. It also increases gastric motility and, thus, causes a decrease in gut transit time.
The gingerol constituents of ginger are generally implied as the active ingredient accountable for these effects. (1)
How to take ginger for heartburn?
- Grate fresh ginger roots.
- Add them to boiling water and let them steep.
- When the ginger tea is ready, drink it an hour or 2 before meals.
2. Implement dietary modifications
Adopting the following dietary interventions can help prevent and manage heartburn flare-ups.
a. Avoid eating spicy foods
Consumption of spicy foods is discouraged in patients with heartburn.
According to a study that has examined the link between spicy food intake and the existence of heartburn in a large selection of adults, men consuming spicy foods more than 10 times every week were 2.63 times more at risk of suffering from heartburn when compared to those who never ate spicy foods.
Also, men with the largest intake of spicy foods were three times more likely to go through heartburn quite frequently compared to men with a lower consumption of spicy food.
So, it is suggested that, since an elevated consumption of spicy foods is associated with an incredible risk of heartburn in men, it should be avoided. (2)
b. Don’t follow a high-fat or carbohydrate-rich diet
High-fat foods, particularly fried or greasy foods, are thought to exacerbate GERD symptoms.
The impact of meal volume and fat content on gastroesophageal reflux was examined in healthy subjects. It was found that the gastric acid exposure time was greatly longer in the high-fat diet group.
Research studies indicate that a carbohydrate-free or a positively hypoglycidal diet leads to a reduction in the pH of the gastric contents, thus hindering the further secretion of hydrochloric acid with a deduction or alleviation of heartburn symptoms, which are regular signs of gastroesophageal diseases.
Only recently, a study of 130 patients with acid reflux who followed a low-glycemic diet for 2 weeks established statistically substantial revision in symptoms. So, if you suffer from heartburn, let go of fatty foods and carbs. (3)(4)(5)
c. Follow a Mediterranean-like diet and consume fiber-rich foods
Diets that decrease typical triggers of GERD, such as increased fiber content, may be proposed to patients with GERD as dietary planning is helpful in managing heartburn.
In some studies, patients reported lower incidences of GERD symptoms after being on the Mediterranean diet, which comprises a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and unsaturated fats. The Mediterranean also includes olive oil and fish. Thus, including these components in your diet can be helpful for dealing with heartburn. (6)(5)
d. Avoid consuming soft and acidic drinks
In GERD, transitions happen in the oropharyngeal transport of liquids and soft foods. This transport is slower in patients with heartburn compared to healthy subjects. Patients with GERD have issues with esophageal clearance and longer esophageal transit duration.
In some studies, acidic liquid took extended periods of time to be ingested, with a greater number of swallows, slower ingestion flow, and lower volume in each swallow compared with the neutral fluid. Therefore, acidic drinks are frequently thought to worsen GERD and heartburn. So, it is best to avoid these beverages. (7)
e. Avoid drinking alcohol
Alcohol is one of the most generally abused drugs and one of the primary most preventable reasons of death globally. Heavy drinking puts the public at an elevated risk for many serious health issues, including GERD.
Alcohol intake may boost symptoms of GERD and cause harm to the esophageal mucosa. In numerous patients, symptoms of GERD can be regulated after the withdrawal of alcoholic drinks.
So patients with GERD are often advised to bypass alcohol consumption or to consume only moderate amounts of alcohol. (8)
f. Drink plain carbonated beverages
Data have indicated a positive impact of carbonated beverages on gastrointestinal diseases or health. The study of the properties of carbonated beverages mainly pertains to the carbon dioxide, which these drinks contain.
Scientific studies indicate that the major relationship between carbon dioxide and the gastrointestinal system happens in the buccal cavity, esophagus, and stomach. The effect of carbonation on the stomach process seems connected to both mechanical and chemical effects and can be beneficial in dealing with heartburn symptoms.
Note: Avoid drinking more than 300 ml of carbonated fluid a day. (9)
3. Implement lifestyle interventions
Adopting the following lifestyle interventions can help manage heartburn.
a. Elevate your head at night
Gastroesophageal reflux at night is a primary cause of heartburn and sleep disturbances, which eventually affect quality of life. Lifestyle interventions, such as head elevation while sleeping, are believed to relieve these signs of gastroesophageal reflux.
This may be because head elevation reduces esophageal exposure to stomach acid and improves the clearance of acid from the esophagus. It is, in fact, a proven lifestyle intervention for GERD.
Head-of-bed elevation has been exhibited to diminish symptoms in patients with GERD. Studies have indicated that head elevation while lying down lessened esophageal acid exposure, which led to some comfort from heartburn and reduced sleep disturbances in patients. (10)(11)(12)
b. Don’t sleep right after eating
Not eating something before bedtime is a well-known good sleep hygiene tactic.
Several studies have evaluated meal timing as a risk factor for interrupted sleep. It is believed that eating close to sleep leads to poor sleep quality through gastrointestinal distress, heartburn, and acid reflux. (13)
Researchers have found that a lesser dinner-to-bedtime gap was a vastly important facet impacting the recurrence of GERD and that patients who commonly slept within 3 hours after eating had elevated recurrence rates of heartburn. (11)(12)
Patients with GERD eating a late-evening meal had enormously more supine acid reflux described in relation to when they ate up an early meal, particularly in patients with obesity and those with esophagitis.
These conclusions endorse the suggestions to GERD patients to consume dinner early. (14)
c. Maintain a healthy weight
When looking at the link between obesity and GERD or its complications, an inverse association between weight loss and GERD symptoms is to be expected.
In the last few years, there has existed a continuous boost in the preponderance of GERD, and many studies have indicated a substantial link between obesity and GERD.
The prevalence of GERD has been demonstrated to inflate with rising BMI. In the traditional standards for the management of GERD symptoms, weight loss is a must.
Results of studies have exhibited that GERD symptoms were dominant in 37% of people with overweight or obesity. Moreover, research has shown that weight loss guided patients to a substantial improvement in their GERD symptoms, thus verifying that weight loss is a crucial lifestyle modification for the treatment of GERD. (15)
4. Perform breathing exercises
Anxiety and depression are understood to aggravate GERD symptoms, and patients who respond not so well to medication are more prone to suffer from psychological issues. In some studies, hypnotherapy, biofeedback, and muscle relaxation techniques have been exhibited to improve GERD symptoms.
In a research study of diaphragmatic breathing exercises for patients with GERD, patients were advised to perform breathing exercises for 30 minutes every day and were provided a recording with instructions and relaxing music. (16)
After 4 weeks, patients rehearsing the breathing practices had a considerable reduction in esophageal acid exposure and improvements in quality of life. In those still doing these exercises for 9 months, less medicine was required. (16)
How to Prevent Heartburn?
Healthcare professionals with expertise in gastric issues share these tips to prevent heartburn episodes:
- Avoid lying down for 3 hours right after having a meal.
- Eat small meals but more frequently in your day.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing to dodge tension on your stomach.
- Lose excess weight.
- Quit smoking.
- Raise the head of your bed 6–8 inches when sleeping.
How Do I Know If I Have GERD?
Only a doctor can successfully diagnose GERD, so talk to your doctor if you suspect it, especially if you experience these symptoms:
- Heartburn twice or more times a week
- Worsening of heartburn severity
- Sleep disturbances from heartburn
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
- Interference of symptoms with daily activities
Most-Asked Questions About Heartburn
Can chronic heartburn be serious?
Yes, chronic heartburn can be an indication of GERD, and constant exposure to stomach acid can irritate and damage the lining of the esophagus.
Is GERD life-threatening?
Although GERD can infrequently require surgery, the likelihood of it being fatal is tiny.
Is heartburn caused by stress?
Doctors say that stress can indirectly lead to heartburn as stressful events cause disruption in the diet and daily routine.
Does heartburn affect my heart health?
GERD or heartburn has nothing to do with the heart.
If you experience frequent acid reflux or heartburn, it is time to speak to your doctor. They may advise lifestyle modifications to help deter your symptoms. They may instruct you to eat smaller meals, stay vertical after eating, or slash certain foods from your diet.
There are also remedies you can follow to manage heartburn and its associated symptoms. If these remedies don’t alleviate your symptoms, your doctor may suggest over-the-counter or prescription medications. In rare cases, surgery may be required.