What Helps Heartburn Fast

Smoking reduces the amount of saliva produced and impacts the effectiveness of the valve that keeps stomach acid from entering the esophagus, both of which make heartburn more likely. Quitting smoking can reduce the frequency and severity of acid reflux and, in some cases, even eliminate it.

Home Remedies for Heartburn: 9 Ways to Get Rid of Acid Reflux

Despite what its name implies, heartburn has nothing to do with your heart. Rather, it’s a burning sensation in your chest that occurs when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, the 10-inch tube connecting your mouth to your stomach.

When it hits, heartburn can last for just a few minutes or as long as several hours. Either way, it’s uncomfortable — so it’s no surprise if you’re looking for a way to get rid of the sensation fast.

What causes heartburn and what does it feel like exactly?

According to the American College of Gastroenterology, stomach acid is needed to break down the food you eat, something your stomach has no trouble handling. Your esophagus, on the other hand, is irritated by it.

To keep stomach acid (and digesting food) in your stomach and out of your esophagus, a circular ring of muscle at the tube’s base, called the lower esophageal sphincter, acts as a valve. When this valve is relaxed, food you’ve consumed is allowed to pass through to your stomach. When contracted, this valve prevents this food and acid from backing up into your esophagus.

If this valve relaxes abnormally and stomach acid is allowed to travel back into your esophagus, acid reflux occurs. Heartburn is the most well-known and obvious symptom.

It can feel differently depending on its severity, but heartburn symptoms include:

  • A burning sensation in your chest, behind your breastbone
  • Burning pain that rises up toward your throat
  • Having a bitter or sour taste in your mouth

Acid reflux and heartburn are sometimes caused by an underlying medical condition, or even a medication you’re taking in some cases. But, more often than not, they’re triggered by things like your diet and lifestyle choices — making the occasional bout of heartburn fairly common.

Common triggers of heartburn include:

  • Overeating or eating too quickly
  • Lying down too soon after eating
  • Consuming certain foods, including caffeine, carbonated beverages, alcohol, peppermint, citrus, tomato-based products, chocolate and fatty or spicy foods
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Stress and anxiety

9 home remedies for heartburn

If you’re trying to avoid acid reflux or get rid of heartburn fast, here are nine ways to ease — maybe even prevent — your symptoms:

1. Keep a food journal and avoid trigger foods

As mentioned, certain foods and drinks can trigger acid reflux and heartburn. You can help identify the specific foods most likely to give you issues by keeping a food and symptom log. Once you do identify them, avoid these foods and drinks whenever possible.

2. Resist the urge to overeat or eat quickly

When it comes to preventing heartburn, watching portion sizes at meals can go a long way. Having a large amount of food in your stomach may put more pressure on the valve that keeps stomach acid out of your esophagus, making acid reflux and heartburn more likely. If you’re prone to heartburn, consider eating smaller meals more frequently. Eating quickly can also be a trigger of heartburn so be sure to slow down and take time to chew food and drink beverages.

3. Avoid late meals, snacking before bed and eating before exercising

Laying down with a stomach full of food can trigger acid reflux and make heartburn symptoms worse. Avoid eating within 3 hours of your bedtime so your stomach has plenty of time to empty. You may also want to wait at least two hours before exercising.

4. Eat alkaline foods, like a ripe banana

The high potassium content of a banana makes it a fairly alkaline food. And, according to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, this means it may help counteract the stomach acid irritating your esophagus.

A disclaimer, though: Unripe bananas are less alkaline, starch-heavy and may actually be an acid reflux trigger for some people. So be sure to choose a banana that’s ripe.

Other alkaline foods that may help offset heartburn include melons, cauliflower, fennel and nuts.

5. Wear loose-fitting clothing

If you’re prone to heartburn, tight-fitting belts and clothing that squeeze your belly may be contributing to your symptoms.

6. Adjust your sleep position

Elevating your head and chest higher than your feet as you sleep can help prevent and ease acid reflux and heartburn. You can do this using a foam wedge placed under the mattress or by raising bedposts using wood blocks. Beware of piling pillows, as this usually isn’t effective and may even make your symptoms worse. Additionally, sleeping on your left side is thought to aid digestion and may work to limit stomach acid reflux.

7. Take steps to lose weight if you are overweight

Excess weight puts extra pressure on your stomach, increasing your risk of acid reflux and heartburn. Eating a well-balanced diet and getting 150 minutes of physical activity per week are the first two steps to maintaining a healthy weight and losing excess weight.

8. Stop smoking if you smoke

Smoking reduces the amount of saliva produced and impacts the effectiveness of the valve that keeps stomach acid from entering the esophagus, both of which make heartburn more likely. Quitting smoking can reduce the frequency and severity of acid reflux and, in some cases, even eliminate it.

9. Reduce stress

Chronic stress takes a physical toll on your body, including slowing digestion and making you more sensitive to pain. The longer food sits in your stomach, the more likely stomach acid is to reflux. Additionally, having an increased sensitivity to pain can make you feel the burning pain of heartburn more intensely. Taking steps to reduce stress may help prevent or ease the effects of acid reflux and heartburn.

What to do if heartburn is severe or frequent

For mild, occasional heartburn, over-the-counter medications such as antacids and histamine blockers can help relieve symptoms. Always read the product label before taking an antacid or histamine blocker and never take a larger dose or take doses more frequently than directed.

If you’re experiencing heartburn frequently, consult your doctor before taking heartburn medications regularly since these drugs can interfere with many other medications and affect underlying health conditions you may have.

If you have severe heartburn, as well as if it persists or worsens after taking steps to relieve it, consult your doctor. In some cases, heartburn can be a sign of an underlying condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or possibly a side effect of a medication you’re taking.

GERD Diet: Foods That Help with Acid Reflux (Heartburn)

a woman experiencing GERD symptoms

a woman experiencing GERD symptoms

Getting a case of acid reflux (heartburn) once in a while isn’t unusual, but some people suffer from burning discomfort, bloating and belching almost every time they eat. About 20% of the population has gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic acid reflux condition that’s diagnosed by a doctor.

Normally, the esophageal sphincter (a muscular tube that lets food pass into the stomach and then cinches shut to block it from coming back up) protects the esophagus from stomach acid. However, if the sphincter relaxes, food can push upward through the loosened opening and cause acid reflux.

“Diet plays a major role in controlling acid reflux symptoms and is the first line of therapy used for people with GERD,” says Ekta Gupta, M.B.B.S., M.D., gastroenterologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Foods That May Cause Heartburn

Foods commonly known to be heartburn triggers cause the esophageal sphincter to relax and delay the digestive process, letting food sit in the stomach longer, says Gupta. The worst culprits? Foods that are high in fat, salt or spice such as:

  • Fried food
  • Fast food
  • Pizza
  • Potato chips and other processed snacks
  • Chili powder and pepper (white, black, cayenne)
  • Fatty meats such as bacon and sausage
  • Cheese

Other foods that can cause the same problem include:

  • Tomato-based sauces
  • Citrus fruits
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint
  • Carbonated beverages

“Moderation is key since many people may not be able to or want to completely eliminate these foods,” says Gupta. “But try to avoid eating problem foods late in the evening closer to bedtime, so they’re not sitting in your stomach and then coming up your esophagus when you lay down at night. It’s also a good idea to eat small frequent meals instead of bigger, heavier meals and avoid late-night dinners and bedtime snacks.”

Foods That Help Prevent Acid Reflux

Good news: There are plenty of things you can eat to help prevent acid reflux. Stock your kitchen with foods from these three categories:

a bowl of banana oatmeal

High-fiber foods

Fibrous foods make you feel full so you’re less likely to overeat, which may contribute to heartburn. So, load up on healthy fiber from these foods:

  • Whole grains such as oatmeal, couscous and brown rice.
  • Root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots and beets.
  • Green vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli and green beans.

a bowl of mixed nuts

Alkaline foods

Foods fall somewhere along the pH scale (an indicator of acid levels). Those that have a low pH are acidic and more likely to cause reflux. Those with higher pH are alkaline and can help offset strong stomach acid. Alkaline foods include:

a bowl of cut watermelon

Watery foods

Eating foods that contain a lot of water can dilute and weaken stomach acid. Choose foods such as:

  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • Watermelon
  • Broth-based soups
  • Herbal tea

Heartburn Home Remedies

People with heartburn commonly reach for antacids, over-the-counter medications that neutralize stomach acid. But eating certain foods may also offer relief from symptoms. Consider trying the following:

milk pouring from a pitcher into a glass

Milk

Does milk help with heartburn? “Milk is often thought to relieve heartburn,” says Gupta. “But you have to keep in mind that milk comes in different varieties — whole milk with the full amount of fat, 2% fat, and skim or nonfat milk. The fat in milk can aggravate acid reflux. But nonfat milk can act as a temporary buffer between the stomach lining and acidic stomach contents and provide immediate relief of heartburn symptoms.” Low-fat yogurt has the same soothing qualities along with a healthy dose of probiotics (good bacteria that enhance digestion).

a cup of ginger tea

Ginger

Ginger is one of the best digestive aids because of its medicinal properties. It’s alkaline in nature and anti-inflammatory, which eases irritation in the digestive tract. Try sipping ginger tea when you feel heartburn coming on.

Apple cider vinegar and apples

Apple cider vinegar

While there isn’t enough research to prove that drinking apple cider vinegar works for acid reflux, many people swear that it helps. However, you should never drink it at full concentration because it’s a strong acid that can irritate the esophagus. Instead, put a small amount in warm water and drink it with meals.

a cup of lemon water with honey

Lemon water

Lemon juice is generally considered very acidic, but a small amount of lemon juice mixed with warm water and honey has an alkalizing effect that neutralizes stomach acid. Also, honey has natural antioxidants, which protect the health of cells.

How a Doctor Can Help

If you have heartburn two or more times a week and changes to your diet or eating pattern haven’t helped, consult a doctor. A gastroenterologist (a doctor who specializes in the digestive system) can perform tests to measure the acidity in your stomach and see if frequent acid reflux has damaged your esophagus.

GERD is often treatable through a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. But persistent symptoms of reflux need thorough evaluation by a gastroenterologist who can find the underlying cause and discuss available treatment options.

The Johns Hopkins Heartburn Center

GERD is an ongoing condition that often requires more attention than over-the-counter treatments can offer. The Heartburn Center at Johns Hopkins Medicine provides personalized care to help patients find relief.

Find a Doctor

  • Anti-Reflux Surgery
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
  • Barrett’s Esophagus
  • Heartburn

At Another Johns Hopkins Member Hospital:

  • Howard County General Hospital
  • Sibley Memorial Hospital
  • Suburban Hospital

Find a Treatment Center

  • Gastroenterology and Hepatology
  • The Heartburn Center

Find Additional Treatment Centers at:

  • Howard County General Hospital
  • Sibley Memorial Hospital
  • Suburban Hospital
See also  Upper Right Side Pain

About Us

Family Medicine

Family MedicineIn 2024 our team of doctors and nurses provide a comprehensive range of family planning services. Our doctors have expertise in antenatal care, preconception planning, and STD checks. Contraceptive advice including Mirena and Implanon insertion is available.

  • Early detection of illness;
  • Family planning;
  • Promotion of healthy lifestyle;
  • Skin cancer checks;
  • Sports injuries;
  • Weight reduction;
  • Workers compensation and third party.

  • Children's Health

    Children's HealthBaby Weighing Service. Babies can be booked with our Nurse for weighing, a doctors appointment is not required to use this service. Contact reception for a appointment to have your baby weighed.

    Immunisations. At Tuggeranong Square children's immunisation is regarded an important part of your childs health care. Our doctors take immunising children very seriously. and to ensure all children are immunised Tuggeranong Square Medical Practice doctors BULK BILL for all childhood immunisations. Tuggeranong Square Medical Practice also ensures the Practice Nursing Staff are highly trained in childhood immunisations.


    Women's Health

    Women's HealthOur practice is dedicated to treating a wide spectrum of women’s health concerns. We offer pre-natal, antenatal and postnatal care, contraceptive options, pap screening, and preventative health care advice. We provide assistance, advice and support through all stages of life, recognising the many issues many women may face from adolescence through to the peri and post-menopausal period.

    • Cervical Screening tests;
    • Reproductive health. Including Mirena and Implanon insertion;
    • Shared antenatal care.

    Men's Health

    Men's HealthWe encourage men to present routinely to their GP to discuss all aspects of their health. We provide comprehensive advice and support for men to address the prevention and management of various health conditions. This may include assessments for cardiovascular risk, diabetes, cancer prevention, mental health assessments, STD screening, sports injuries and the importance of sleep as it relates to other areas of health.


    • Preventative Healthcare. Including cardiovascular screening, mental health and cancer checks;
    • Prostate examination.
Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
View All Articles