Loosen Tight Clothing
Clothing that fits tightly around the waist, including pants and belts, can put pressure on your stomach, causing its contents to move backwards into the esophagus — leading to discomfort and pain1. The first remedy you should try is loosening any tight clothing or changing into a looser-fitting item.
Elevate Your Upper Body or Stand Up
Your posture can also contribute to heartburn. Lying down can worsen symptoms by putting pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) — the muscle that keeps the bottom of the esophagus closed1.
It’s best to stand up straight and wait at least three hours before lying down after a meal. If you are sitting or lying down, try elevating your upper body and head with a pillow. An upright posture will help keep the stomach acid from rising into your esophagus1.
Chew Gum to Help Reduce Acid
Chewing gum encourages your mouth to produce more saliva and causes you to swallow more. The extra saliva can help clear acid out of your mouth, throat, and esophagus1.
In one study, people who chewed gum for half an hour after eating had less stomach acid in the esophagus2. Another study found that these results could be further boosted when people chewed gum containing bicarbonate3. Try popping a piece of gum after a heartburn-inducing meal.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Gaining a little bit of weight makes you more likely to experience heartburn. This is true whether you are overweight or you are at a normal weight4. Regardless of your starting size, more weight around your belly means more pressure that could force acid up into your esophagus.
Losing a few pounds may help ease your heartburn symptoms. Dropping 10 to 15 pounds is often enough to get rid of heartburn symptoms1. Try eating a healthful diet and getting more physical activity throughout the day.
Regular exercise can help with heartburn prevention in several ways. Exercise reduces stress, improves digestion, and helps control weight. It can also improve your mood, regulate blood sugar, and improve cardiovascular strength5,6. People who exercise more often tend to be less likely to experience heartburn7.
Make sure to talk to your doctor before beginning or changing a diet or exercise program. Avoid physical activity soon after eating, as this can worsen heartburn1. Additionally, more intense workout sessions can sometimes cause symptoms, while lower-intensity exercise like walking is more likely to provide heartburn relief8.
People with acid reflux are nearly twice as likely to suffer from high stress levels9. Techniques to reduce stress may help ease symptoms.
Meditation can help reduce stress and enhance your mental and physical well-being. Studies show that meditation can help people with acid reflux feel healthier10. See if making time to meditate a few times a week makes a difference in how you feel.
Cigarette smoke leads to heartburn in two ways. First, it contains chemicals that weaken the LES, allowing food to leak back into the esophagus. Additionally, it causes the mouth to make less saliva, which means that less acid is cleared out of the esophagus11.
Quitting smoking could help your heartburn, in addition to leading to many other health benefits. The American Lung Association12 and smokefree.gov13 offer programs and resources to help you quit.
Eat Smaller Meals
A large meal can stretch out the stomach, putting extra pressure on the LES. This muscle may let some undigested food through into the esophagus, where it creates that burning heartburn feeling14.
Eat slowly and keep portions small. Try scheduling six small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. Don’t stuff yourself — stop when you feel full.
Stopping Heartburn In Its Tracks
Some days, even the best acid reflux home remedies just don’t cut it. An over-the-counter acid reducer can help. PEPCID® works fast to relieve heartburn and controls acid all day or all night*.
*BASED ON 9-HOUR ACID CONTROL STUDIES DURING THE DAY AND 12-HOUR ACID CONTROL STUDIES DURING THE NIGHT. ACID CONTROL DOES NOT IMPLY SYMPTOM RELIEF.
- 1 Heartburn. MedlinePlus. Reviewed January 14, 2021. Accessed December 14, 2021.
- 2 Moazzez R, Bartlett D, Anggiansah A. The effect of chewing sugar-free gum on gastro-esophageal reflux. J Dent Res. 2005;84(11):1062-1065.
- 3 Smoak BR, Koufman JA. Effects of gum chewing on pharyngeal and esophageal pH. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2001;110(12):1117-1119.
- 4 Badillo R, Francis D. Diagnosis and treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease. World J Gastrointest Pharmacol Ther. 2014;5(3):105-112.
- 5 About Physical Activity: Why It Matters. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reviewed May 13, 2020. Accessed December 14, 2021
- 6 Benefits of Exercise. MedlinePlus. Updated September 30, 2021. Accessed December 14, 2021.
- 7 Djärv T, Wikman A, Nordenstedt H, Johar A, Lagergren J, Lagergren P. Physical activity, obesity and gastroesophageal reflux disease in the general population. World J Gastroenterol. 2012;18(28):3710-3714.
- 8 Mendes-Filho AM, Moraes-Filho JP, Nasi A, et al. Influence of exercise testing in gastroesophageal reflux in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Arq Bras Cir Dig. 2014;27(1):3-8.
- 9 Song EM, Jung HK, Jung JM. The association between reflux esophagitis and psychosocial stress. Dig Dis Sci. 2013;58(2):471-477.
- 10 Chandran S, Raman R, Kishor M, Nandeesh HP. The effectiveness of mindfulness meditation in relief of symptoms of depression and quality of life in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Indian J Gastroenterol. 2019;38(1):29-38.
- 11 Ness-Jensen E, Lagergren J. Tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2017;31(5):501-508.
- 12 Join Freedom From Smoking. American Lung Association. Updated January 13, 2021. Accessed December 14, 2021.
- 13 Smokefree.gov. Smokefree.gov. Accessed December 14, 2021.
- 14 Newberry C, Lynch K. The role of diet in the development and management of gastroesophageal reflux disease: why we feel the burn. J Thorac Dis. 2019;11(Suppl 12):S1594-S1601.