Acid reflux can take away the joys of everyday life for many Canadians, underscoring the need to adopt healthy lifestyle habits and find the right treatment.
Heartburn is a common problem. About five million Canadians experience it at least once each week, according to the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation. For busy people on the go, it’s an issue that can take away their ability to live their lives to the fullest.
The symptoms of heartburn are unpleasant and can include a burning feeling in your chest to an acidic, sour taste in the back of your throat, as well as pain when you bend over or lie down. They may cause slight to intense discomfort and can last a few minutes or even hours after you eat or lay down too soon after a meal. It’s caused when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes abnormally, allowing stomach acids to flow back into the esophagus. A well-functioning LES should close after you swallow and keep acids from rising.
What causes heartburn — identifying possible heartburn triggers
Heartburn can be triggered by several factors, including pregnancy, certain medications such as anti-inflammatories, and what, how much, and when you eat. Triggers vary widely and they depend on how your body reacts to certain foods, plus lifestyle choices and medical conditions.
Some common foods have been linked to heartburn — primarily acidic and high-fat foods, such as onions, tomatoes, cheese, chocolate, citrus fruit, alcohol, and caffeinated or carbonated beverages. Spicy foods can also make your symptoms worse since it contains capsaicin. If you feel what you may be drinking or eating is triggering you, keep track of what you consume so you can learn and avoid what may be causing your heartburn.
Lifestyle behaviours and physiological and environmental elements also may play a role. Smoking may relax the LES, which may increase the risk of heartburn. Being pregnant or overweight may increase the risk because of the added pressure it puts on the stomach. High-stress levels and wearing tight clothing (especially anything around the abdomen area) could contribute to the problem.
How PPIs can help control heartburn — finding effective relief from acid reflux
Not all heartburn is the same. Episodic heartburn may occur once or twice a week or less. When it happens two or more times a week, it is generally considered frequent heartburn. For relief, a pharmacist or doctor may suggest proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). This class of medications introduced in the late 1980s has been proven effective in reducing stomach acid. PPIs work by reducing the production of acid right at its source — the parietal cells found in the glands in the lining of the stomach.
To take control of your frequent heartburn, consider Nexium 24HR, a once-a-day PPI medication available over the counter without a prescription. Appropriate for adults ages 18 plus, it contains an active ingredient called esomeprazole magnesium. Just take one pill in the morning with water before eating every day for 14 consecutive days, even when not experiencing symptoms to start feeling better. It’s not intended for immediate relief of heartburn and may take 1 to 4 days to take full effect. For best results, use as directed. Always read and follow the instructions on the label.
Adopting healthy lifestyle habits — smart tips for managing heartburn
Along with taking Nexium 24HR, you can empower your health and reduce frequent heartburn with healthy lifestyle choices. When meal planning, try to avoid acidic and high-fat foods. Think instead of berries, bananas and pears with low-fat yogurt for breakfast, and a light lunch such as salad and vegetables seasoned with herbs for lunch or dinner. Adopt a grazing approach; consume less and eat more often. Before bedtime, stay away from late-night snacks, as well as carbonated or caffeinated beverages. Sip a cup of low acidity herbal decaffeinated tea instead.
Wait at least three hours after a meal before lying down or heading to bed. Gravity will help keep stomach acids where they belong and prevent them from rising into the esophagus. You can also take steps to heartburn-proof your sleep. Research has shown that elevating the top portion of it with blocks can help reduce the number of acid reflux episodes. Or use a wedge pillow to raise your head at least six to eight inches higher than your feet.
Exercise is always a good habit to help maintain a healthy weight and overall wellness, but those who experience heartburn may want to make adjustments to their workout routines. Don’t eat beforehand and take a look at the type of exercises you’re doing. Some forms, such as vigorous running, lifting heavy weights, cycling at a competitive level, and ones that involve jumping or bouncing, can strain the abdomen. Swimming, yoga, and fast walking may be better options. For post-workout meals, choose low-fat options, like grilled chicken or fish, and avoid large amounts of water, which may aggravate heartburn.
This product may not be right for you. Always read and follow the label. Learn more about this once-a-day pill and take a quiz to see if you suffer from frequent heartburn at nexium24.ca. Talk to your pharmacist or healthcare provider, if you have questions.