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Heartburn results from a backup of acid-containing stomach contents into your esophagus. Here are tips for prevention:
� Eat smaller meals
Too much food expands your stomach and puts pressure on a band of muscle (the lower esophageal sphincter) that helps keep food and acid from backing up into your esophagus.
� Avoid alcohol, fatty foods, chocolate, spearmint and peppermint
These foods can relax your lower esophageal sphincter and promote upward flow of stomach contents.
� Consider using an antacid or H-2 blocker
Antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums and others help neutralize stomach acids temporarily. Over-the-counter histamine (H-2) blockers such as Pepcid AC, Tagamet HB, Zantac 75 and others reduce stomach acid production, which may relieve or prevent symptoms when taken before a meal. But overuse of antacids or H-2 blockers can cause side effects.
� Don't eat before sleeping
Wait two to three hours after eating before lying down. This allows enough time for increased stomach acid produced after a meal to taper off and for the stomach to empty from that meal.
� Stop smoking
The nicotine from cigarettes can relax your lower esophageal sphincter, allowing acid to flow back into your esophagus.
� Lose excess weight
Slimming down if you're overweight helps reduce the pressure your abdomen puts on your stomach when you're lying down.
� Wear loose clothes
A tight belt or waistband can put pressure on your stomach and push acid into your esophagus, causing discomfort.
� Elevate the head of your bed
Raise the head of your bed four to six inches. This helps keep stomach acid in your stomach, where it belongs.
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