Jenelle Croatto APD
The fittingly appropriate name of heartburn (or gastro-oesophageal reflux) is a common condition which affects up to 1 in 5 Australians at least once per week. It can affect men, women and children! Heartburn is often experienced as a burning sensation behind the breastbone which is caused by a reflux of stomach acid into your oesophagus (the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach).
Connecting the oesophagus to the stomach is the lower oesophageal sphincter, which acts as valve to prevent stomach contents from rising back up through oesophagus. Heartburn occurs when this valve is weakened or not working properly. Although this condition is not life threatening, left untreated it can cause changes in the oesophagus which may lead to cancer. If you are experiencing chronic reflux it is best to have it checked out as it may be sign of another health condition.
Luckily relief is at hand...
10 Simple Steps to Manage Heart Burn
1. Lose excess weight – Being overweight, especially around the abdominal area places extra pressure on your stomach
2. Avoid big meals – Spread your meals throughout the day by having smaller portions
3. Elevate the head of your bed AND don’t lie down immediately after eating – Prevents ‘reflux’ of stomach contents
4. Avoid sleeping on your right side - How does it work? Gravity! Quite simply your stomach is situated on your left hand side of your abdomen
5. Don’t drink with your meals – By doing so you will avoid additional pressure on your stomach. Aim to drink fluids ½ hour before or 1 hour after meals
6. Low fat options – Fatty meals and snacks will likely aggravate symptoms
7. Avoid spicy and citric food and drinks - These foods are known to irritate the stomach and oesophagus, especially if the oesophagus wall is already irritated from a recent episode of reflux
8. Limit coffee (including decaffeinated) and alcohol– These both increase stomach acid secretion. Additionally alcohol relaxes the lower oesophageal sphincter.
9. Don’t smoke – Not only does smoking relax the lower oesophageal sphincter it also prolongs the removal of acid from the stomach
10. Avoid peppermint, spearmint and chocolate – Common triggers that also relax lower oesophageal sphincter
Hopefully by following this advice you will be on your way to settling your inner dragon!