The cause of heartburn is acid juices from the stomach backing into the esophagus. For relief, avoid the substances that aggravate the condition: alcohol, tobacco smoke, certain drugs (aspirin) and foods (garlic, onion, chocolate, coffee). Eat smaller meals. An overstuffed stomach puts extra pressure on the opening into the esophagus. So do tight belts and girdles, even body fat. Obese people often find relief after losing weight.
Let gravity help keep acid down: stay upright for several hours after eating. Prop the head of your bed 4 inches high on bricks or wood blocks.
Over-the-counter antacids help relieve heartburn by neutralizing stomach acid and by coating the lower part of the esophagus; liquids may be more effective than tablets.
If the pain isn’t promptly relieved by the antacid or if it’s accompanied by sweating or pain in the jaw or arm, report it immediately to your doctor. Such pain can mean a heart attack.