Q. I’m trying to find out what causes heartburn and how best to treat it. Is it caused by eating too fast? Can heartburn cause heart attacks?

My boyfriend has discomfort nearly every night. A guy he works with has recommended vinegar, but that seems ridiculous.

A. Heartburn happens when stomach acid splashes back into the esophagus. The corrosive chemicals are irritating to the delicate lining of the gullet.

Many foods and drugs can make heartburn worse. Eating rapidly or overeating may also aggravate it.

We agree that vinegar sounds like the last thing to take for heartburn, but we heard from a reader who found it helpful:

“A doctor advised a family friend to take a tablespoon of vinegar for heartburn relief. I tried two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and it worked. It tastes strong for a few minutes and I thought the heartburn was worse. Then the pain went away for good.”

Another unlikely candidate is a spoonful of yellow mustard. Several readers sing its praises. Chewing sugarless gum may sound equally preposterous, but it can alleviate the symptoms surprisingly well.

We list a number of medicines and foods that can contribute to heartburn in our Guide to Digestive Disorders.¬†Chronic heartburn may signal a more serious condition, such as Barrett’s esophagus, and requires medical attention. PPIs such as omeprazole or Nexium can control heartburn, but rebound reflux may it hard to stop taking them.¬†

Heartburn does not cause heart attacks, but the symptoms may be confused.

 

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  1. Izabel
    Reply

    Hello Dear
    I am happy that you got cured from Barrett’s Esophagus. I was diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus 3 months ago. I have metaplasia, means that the cells are changed.(same thing that you had)I have changed my diet. I was on the PPI meds, but now I’ve stopped, because of the side effects. When I was on the PPI meds I still had heartburn.Now I take DGL before every meal,I still have heartburn,I also drink Slippery Elm to coat the stomach, but it doesn’t help. I don’t know what else to do. I am wondering if a strict, healthy diet (no sugar, raw veggies, fruits, no wheat, no dairy products) without the PPI meds, will get rid of the Barrett’s Esophagus…
    I appreciate your answer
    Thank you
    Izabela

  2. RD
    Reply

    I have found that eating 1/2 of a banana a day has helped reduce my heartburn. I grew tired of bananas, I didn’t think it was possible, and now I eat dried bananas chips.

  3. Tracy
    Reply

    Cut down your coffee consumption. Don’t know if scientific studies back this up, but I have definitely found that drinking 4-5 cups of coffee brings on heartburn. Cut it back to 2 cups maximum, and haven’t suffered.
    Also, avoid tomatoes, oranges, sugar. Though they’re rich in vitamins, tomatoes and oranges have high citric content which can irritate.
    Good luck, I know that heartburn can be so debilitating.

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