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Eight tips to help you cool things down.

Keep a food diary |One of the best ways to avoid heartburn is to avoid the triggers. "Triggers vary from person to person, but common ones include citrus drinks, high-fat foods, onions and chocolate.

"Cutting down on alcohol, coffee and fizzy drinks can also help," says Helen Boardman. "The only way to know your triggers for certain is by monitoring symptoms and trying to spot patterns."

prop yourself up To sleep | Heartburn is often much worse at night, because when we're lying down, it's easier for acid to travel into the oesophagus.

Let gravity give you a helping hand and avoid sleeping in a completely flat position. Stacking up some pillows, or buying a wedge pillow, may help.

Or, Dr Sarah Jarvis has this top tip: "Try placing a couple of sturdy bricks under the head of your bed to prop it up. Just enough that you're slightly tilted when you're lying down - it could really help."

don'T go To Bed on a |FULL STOMACH In addition to the above, it's also a good idea not to eat your dinner too close to bedtime. If symptoms are troublesome at night, have your bigger meal at lunchtime and a lighter evening meal.

"Wait for two to three hours after you eat before going to bed," suggests Boardman. "Your stomach will be empty and less likely to reflux when you lie down."

siT up sTraigHT | When we're hunched over, it's easier for acid to rise up the oesophagus - so when your mother told you to "sit up nicely" at the dinner table, she had a valid point! Avoid eating in front of the TV slumped over a low coffee table, and try to avoid bending forwards too much for a while after eating meals too.

Keep sTress To a minimum | Stress affects people in different ways, and it may - though not always - be a factor in heartburn.

Avoiding stress entirely is not possible (and sometimes not necessary), but knowing our limits and learning to manage stress levels before they make us unwell - by prioritising rest, relaxation and exercise, getting enough sleep and addressing any circumstances and situations that cause distress - can help keep us feeling tip-top and reduce the impact of symptoms.

don'T eaT Too quiCKly |"Eating too much, too quickly, can increase heartburn, so take your time and enjoy mealtimes," says Boardman. "Feeling stressed or rushed when you eat can also cause the stomach to produce more stomach acids."

quiT smoKing |Smoking is bad news for health all round - and that includes where heartburn is concerned. "Not only can cigarette smoke irritate your throat, it also relaxes the oesophageal muscles that keep stomach acid where it belongs," says Boardman.

WaTCH your WeigHT | Heartburn is more common in those who are overweight, so aim to keep to a healthy weight by eating sensibly and taking regular exercise.


Dr Sarah Jarvis

KEEPING healthy can be a massive help where heartburn is CONCERNED

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 9, 2015
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