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The best way to identify your heartburn triggers is to track your symptoms. (Shutterstock/-)
Heartburn doesn’t just cause discomfort in your stomach, it can lead to chest pain, a sore throat and bad breath.
While you cannot cure heartburn, you can control what you eat to avoid heartburn. Triggers for heartburn may vary from person to person.
Heartburn is most common after eating a large meal. This can happen if you eat large amounts of any food, not just food known to trigger your heartburn. You should divide your meal into smaller portions.
Fitness trainers or enthusiasts always say “feel the burn”. In this scenario, you will literally feel the burn. Working out can aggravate your stomach, causing the stomach content to go up your digestive system.
Smoking can relax the esophagus sphincter and thereby allow gastric reflux, not to mention other health effects.
Aside from what you eat, certain eating habits can trigger heartburn. The following activities are common triggers: eating late at night, lying down within one hour after eating and lying on your right side, which puts the stomach higher than the esophagus and can increase the risk for acid flowing back up into the esophagus.
(Read also: 11 common causes of stomach pain)
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relax the esophagus sphincter, leading to heartburn. If you take medicine for high blood pressure, it is likely that you may have heartburn from time to time.
Some food can cause irritation of the esophagus. Food and drinks that commonly trigger heartburn include: tangy citrus fruits: oranges, grapefruits and orange juice; tomatoes; garlic and onion; spicy foods such as pepper, Mexican food, and chili; peppermint; high-fat foods like cheese, nuts, avocado and a juicy rib eye; alcohol; and caffeine and carbonated beverages such as coffee, soda, tea, iced tea and any other beverages that contain caffeine.
How do I know what triggers my heartburn?
The best way to identify your heartburn triggers is to track your symptoms. You can do this by keeping a journal of all your triggers.
You can use a journal or a notebook that you carry with you or just note them down in your phone.
You can list what you eat and drink for breakfast, lunch and dinner and what you do during the day, any exercise you do or medication you take. Note when you have heartburn, so that you can track back what caused the symptoms.
After finding specific triggers you can look through them and find out what they have in common. When you figure it out, write them down in a list at the end of your journal. It might seem ineffective in the first week, but don’t lose hope and keep working on your journal.
Heartburn triggers are different in everyone. By finding your own triggers, you can have an effective strategy to cope with heartburn and create a diet and exercise plan suitable for your condition. (kes)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.