When heartburn becomes a frequent issue, the burning sensation in your chest, sour taste in your mouth, and the belching that often accompany it can make you downright miserable. If you ignore heartburn for too long, it can cause serious health complications.
Dr. Mustafa Ahmed is a board-certified bariatric surgeon and internal medicine specialist with a busy practice in Las Vegas — Southern Nevada Bariatrics. Dr. Ahmed is a weight-loss expert who is also well-known for his medical skill in treating other issues that can affect your overall health and well-being, including heartburn.
Read what he has to say about heartburn and how you can help prevent it from interfering with your life.
Better described as acid reflux, heartburn occurs when stomach acids flow backward into your esophagus.
The esophagus is a hollow tube that’s about eight inches long and connects your mouth to your stomach. The lower esophageal sphincter is a ring of muscular tissue that sits at the bottom of your esophagus. The sphincter normally opens when you swallow and then closes tightly afterward. This prevents digestive acids and partially digested food from entering and irritating the sensitive tissue lining the esophagus.
Aging, obesity, stress, and other issues can cause weakening of the esophageal sphincter, resulting in the acid backwash that leads to the discomfort associated with heartburn.
Five tips for preventing heartburn
Treatment for frequent or severe bouts of heartburn often includes medications to control your symptoms, but there are healthy habits you can adopt that may prevent the need for medication.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals
Large meals that overfill your stomach take longer to digest and place additional strain on the esophageal sphincter muscle. Cutting back on portion sizes during your meal and saving the “leftover” calories for snacks between meals reduces the risk of stomach contents backwashing into your esophagus.
Gulping your food quickly can also stress your digestive system. Slowing down to enjoy your meal helps your stomach keep up.
Skip that after-dinner nap
Due to the rules of gravity, lying down too quickly after a meal increases the risk of acid reflux. Eat your evening meal at least three hours before retiring for the night. If you must rest after eating or have persistent problems with nighttime heartburn, try sleeping with your upper body slightly elevated.
Wait two hours before you exercise
Exercising too quickly and vigorously after a meal can interfere with your stomach’s ability to empty its contents and increase the risk of acid reflux.
Lose those excess pounds
Excess weight, especially that which occurs in your abdominal region, is a common link to heartburn due to the stress and strain those extra pounds place on your digestive system.
Weight loss is our specialty here at Southern Nevada Bariatrics. We develop personalized weight-management plans that provide nutritional guidance, exercise strategies, and ongoing support in your weight-loss efforts, which may include bariatric surgery.
If you struggle with frequent or severe heartburn, schedule a visit with us today. We’re here to help. Call the office for an appointment or request a consultation online.