The best way to prevent heartburn/GORD is to establish what triggers the problem and to eliminate or avoid the causes where possible.
This can be complicated by the fact that different people can suffer from heartburn for completely separate reasons, though it is usually due to a combination of the below factors.
Keeping a diary or making notes of what triggers your heartburn may be useful as over time you will be able to identify the specific activities or combinations that are likely to trigger an attack.
You can help prevent or relieve heartburn by taking the following measures:
- Try to lose weight if you are overweight.
- Avoid going to bed with a full stomach.
- Don’t eat too much. Also eat more slowly and chew your food properly.
- Don’t wear clothes that constrict your stomach.
- Stop smoking.
- Avoid fatty foods.
- Avoid foods and beverages that may trigger your symptoms, e.g. onions, tomatoes, citrus, coffee, alcohol. Any food that is obviously acidic is likely to exacerbate your problems.
- Try not to use over-the-counter medications that may cause heartburn, e.g. aspirin.
- If you find that your symptoms are worse when lying down, raise the head of your bed by about 15 cm using pillows or other sleep aids.
Previously reviewed by Dr Ganief Adams, Gastroenterologist, MBChB (UCT), FCP (SA)
Reviewed by Dr Jenny Edge, General Surgeon, BSc, MB BS, FRCS (Edin), M Med (Stell.)