Getting rid of heartburn: what NOT to take

You’d be surprised at the remedies that people try to relieve heartburn. Don’t make the same mistakes yourself. Here is a list of things NOT to take and the reasons why.

Do not take Alka-Seltzer regular. Although baking soda can neutralize heartburn for a time, aspirin can make it worse. Alka-Seltzer Anticid Relief does not contain aspirin, so it is safe in this regard (but still high in sodium).

Don’t take aspirin. In case the above has been missed, aspirin can irritate the stomach and make heartburn worse. Sometimes it relieves pain for a short period of time, even stomach ache, but ultimately it irritates the stomach and / or esophagus and makes heartburn worse.

Don’t take ibuprofen or naproxen sodium for the same reason as aspirin.

Don’t take baking soda if you have high blood pressure. Don’t raise your blood pressure for a little heartburn.

Don’t drink beer or wine (or other alcohol). It can be relaxing in the short term (or more likely not). But in the long run, alcohol will make the problem worse.

Don’t drink a glass of orange juice. It’s like putting gasoline on a fire: acid on acid.

Don’t take a nap. The flow of stomach acid is driven by gravity. Lying down makes it easier for acid to flow back into the chest.

Do not run. Exercise slows digestion, and exertion can cause acid to rise to the chest.

I can’t finish this article without telling you what you MUST bring. For occasional heartburn, take an H-2 blocker (ranitidine, famotidine, or cimetidiine) or a PPI (omeprazole or lansoprazole). Those are generic names for over-the-counter drugs that were once prescription-only. If you can’t find them by generic name, ask your friendly pharmacist. Antacids also help. For frequent heartburn, see your doctor. You could have an ulcer or a serious condition.

Copyright 2010 Cynthia J Koelker MD

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