HEADLINE HEALTH – 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.
What is heartburn?
Last Updated April 2022 | This article was created by familydoctor.org editorial staff and reviewed by Beth Oller, MD
familydoctor.org – Despite its name, heartburn doesn’t affect the heart. Heartburn is a burning feeling in the lower chest, along with a sour or bitter taste in the throat and mouth. It usually occurs after eating a big meal or while lying down. The feeling can last for a few minutes or a few hours.
Symptoms of heartburn
Heartburn symptoms vary. They may be slight or extreme. The severity of heartburn may depend on what—and how much—you have eaten. The main symptom of heartburn is a burning feeling in your throat and chest.
This happens when the acidic liquid from your food or drink comes back up into your esophagus. You may have difficulty swallowing or choke on this acid. It may even make you hoarse or cough.
What causes heartburn?
When you eat, food passes from your mouth down a tube called the esophagus. The esophagus is about 10 inches long in most people. To enter the stomach, the food must pass through an opening between the esophagus and stomach. This opening acts like a gate to allow food to pass into the stomach.
Usually, this opening closes as soon as food passes through. But if it doesn’t close all the way, acid from your stomach can get through the opening and into your esophagus. This is called reflux. Stomach acid can irritate the esophagus and cause heartburn.
Hiatal hernia also can cause heartburn. Hiatal hernia is a condition in which part of the stomach is pushed up through the diaphragm (the muscle wall between the stomach and chest) and into the chest. Sometimes this causes heartburn.
How is heartburn diagnosed?
Heartburn symptoms are easy to recognize. If you think you may have heartburn, talk with your doctor. They will likely be able to diagnose you based on your symptoms.
Can heartburn be prevented or avoided?
You might be able to avoid heartburn by making some lifestyle changes …