When it comes to heartburn, the less you trigger it, the less often you burn. The tricky thing is, everyone’s triggers may be different. Common triggers that can cause heartburn include food, caffeine, alcohol, sleep, stress, smoking, weight, and medications. Read more below and make a note of which things you know – or suspect – may be causing your heartburn. You may even want to keep a heartburn diary for a while. The goal isn’t to totally eliminate triggers, but to get better at making choices.
Food certainly is a biggie when it comes to triggers of heartburn. Here are the most common trigger foods. Should we say sorry now?
- Raw onions
- Fried and fatty foods
- Citrus fruits or juices
- Spicy foods
- Ketchup and mustard
- Tomatoes and tomato sauces
Sad but true, caffeine is a very common trigger. What you may not realize is that caffeine is found in more than just coffee. Read on.
- Energy drinks
- Chocolate ice cream
- Coffee ice cream
- Sodas and colas
Alcohol’s a trigger alright. Interestingly, red wine has been shown to be a worse trigger than white.
Sleep?! Well, it’s not sleeping itself that causes heartburn, it’s the fact that most of us like to do it lying down. And when you lie down, your horizontal position can make it easier for acid to creep up out of your stomach into your esophagus (thanks a lot, gravity).
Eating too close to bedtime can also trigger heartburn, if your body’s still digesting a lot of food when you lie down.
Unless you’re living in a bubble, you probably experience some stress in your life. While it’s not a direct trigger of heartburn, stress can make it feel worse. It can also make you reach for things like cigarettes, alcohol, or greasy comfort food.
Big surprise, smoking is not good for your heartburn, either. It relaxes the esophageal sphincter that normally keeps acid from coming up out of your stomach.
Heartburn flare-ups can increase when you’re overweight. Also, if clothing is too tight around your waist, this can constrict your stomach and trigger heartburn too.
Some medicines, both over-the-counter and prescription, can trigger heartburn, even in people who've never had heartburn before. Speak to your doctor if you think this may be the case. Never stop taking any prescription medication without consulting your doctor.