The good news is, there are several things you can do to help alleviate heartburn and reflux. You don’t need to suffer in silence or miss out on the fun things in life. Here’s the rundown on what happens when you get heartburn and how you can take control of your symptoms and find relief.
First things first. Is it heartburn or reflux?
You might see the terms ‘heartburn’ and ‘acid reflux’ used together sometimes, and it can seem confusing as to whether they’re the same or different things. Here’s the difference:
Reflux1 is what happens when acid or other contents from your stomach back up into the oesophagus (the food pipe from your mouth to your stomach). If the muscle that usually keeps your stomach contents in becomes weak or relaxes when it’s not supposed to, it can let small amounts of acid and stomach contents backwash upward into your oesophagus. This can cause a burning sensation which we know as heartburn. In a nutshell, acid reflux is the problem and heartburn is the symptom.
Some of the most common causes of heartburn2 include:
Big or heavy meals.
Spicy food or fatty food.
Coffee or cola drinks.
Turn down the burn
The first step towards managing heartburn is to figure out what triggers it and how you can avoid an episode. However, heartburn can take you by surprise, so knowing how to take control and manage it is equally important.
For people with frequent reflux and heartburn, a combination of over the counter medication and some lifestyle changes can help to provide long-lasting relief from their symptoms. There are two main types of medications for reflux and heartburn, antacids and proton pump inhibitors (or PPIs). PPIs work to slow the production of acid, whereas antacids neutralise the acid that is there. Zanzole 24HR3 is a PPI which, when taken as directed, provides long-lasting heartburn relief. It inhibits the production of acid at the source, to provide continuous relief for up to 24 hours. It’s a simple, once a day tablet you can buy at your pharmacy.
There are many easy, achievable lifestyle changes4 that can help you to manage the symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn, including:
- Avoiding foods that can make your symptoms worse, such as: spicy or fatty foods, foods that are high in natural acids such as tomatoes, citrus fruit and chocolate.
- Eating smaller meals throughout the day so as not to overload your stomach.
- Avoiding drinks that can exacerbate your symptoms, such as coffee, alcohol and cola.
- Eating a low-fat diet.
- Cutting back on alcohol
- Quitting smoking, because tobacco smoke is a known irritant for the digestive system and can make your symptoms worse. If you need help, you can discuss ways to quit smoking with your health professional, such as nicotine replacement therapies, or call the Quitline on 13 QUIT (13 78 48).
- Leaving three hours between your evening meal and bedtime to allow for your stomach to properly start the digestive process.
- If your symptoms are worse at night, some people find raising the head of their bed on a slight angle to be beneficial.
Of course, if you are concerned about your symptoms, see your doctor.
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, worsen or change unexpectedly, talk to your health professional.
1. GORD (Reflux) Healthdirect. Available at https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/gord-reflux Accessed February 2020.
2. What is heartburn overview. Health QLD. https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/what-is-heartburn-acid-reflux-indigestion-prevention-treatment Accessed February 2020.
3. Zanzole 24HR tablets. Consumer Medicine Information. February 2020.
4. Heartburn. Mayo Clinic. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gerd/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20361959