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"What can I do to ease heartburn?"
I am a 27 year old female. I have never had heartburn before, but since the last trimester of my pregnancy and after giving birth to my child 14 months ago, I experience heartburn frequently. This occurs especially after eating citrus fruits or anything with tomatoes. It gets worse when I lie down and it also seems to increase when I exercise? OTC antacids do help, but I was wondering if I can change eating or sleeping habits to get relief as well?
During the last trimester of pregnancy, acid reflux, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), is an extremely common problem. There are many lifestyle changes you can make in addition to pharmacological treatments (such as over the counter antacids) that can help alleviate your symptoms of reflux. The first is diet. There are many foods and liquids which exacerbate reflux symptoms and should be avoided. Some of the more common offenders include chocolate, peppermint, citrus, tomatoes, fried and fatty foods, caffeine, and alcohol. Smoking also greatly worsens reflux so avoid secondhand smoke and if you smoke, do everything you can to try to quit. Another lifestyle change that will likely help your symptoms is to avoid eating right before going to bed. Try to eat multiple small meals throughout the day instead of 2 or 3 large meals. Do not lay down for at least 30 minutes after eating and wait even longer if it was a larger meal. If heartburn still bothers you, especially at nighttime, try propping your pillows so that you are reclined at about a 45 degree angle. Excess weight can contribute to reflux so maintaining a healthy weight is important. Also avoid wearing tight waistbands as this can also exacerbate symptoms. Be sure to see your primary care doctor or gastroenterologist as untreated prolonged reflux can lead to serious complications.
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