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Categories > Digestive Disorders > Indigestion

Surprising heartburn triggers

You know that caffeine, tomato sauce and citrus fruits can cause heartburn, so you steer clear of coffee, Italian food and orange juice. Then why are you suddenly feeling an uncomfortable burning sensation rising in your chest? Other foods, beverages and lifestyle habits are likely causing heartburn. For relief, consider limiting or eliminating the following triggers:

  • Alcohol. When you drink alcohol, the sphincter muscle between your stomach and esophagus may relax, causing your stomach’s acidic contents to rise into the esophagus.
  • Exercise. Mom was right when she said to wait after eating before being active. If you exercise within two hours of eating a meal, your vigorous activity could shift your stomach’s contents upward, especially if you’re bending over to touch your toes or doing yoga poses.
  • Late dinners. Lying down within two or three hours of eating a big meal can cause heartburn; gravity won’t help keep your stomach contents in place when you’re flat on your back. If you’re often too tired to stay up late, eat dinner early.
  • Medication. If your heartburn developed since you started taking a new prescription medication, the drug could be to blame. Several medications can trigger heartburn, including drugs that treat high blood pressure, asthma and anxiety. Discuss your suspicions with your doctor, but never stop taking your medication without his or her permission.
  • Smoking. The nicotine in cigarettes may encourage your stomach contents to rise into your esophagus since it relaxes your esophageal sphincter. Quit the habit and you’ll not only experience less heartburn, you’ll see many other health improvements as well.
  • Tight belts. Wearing clothing or constrictive belts that squeeze you tightly around the waist or middle may put pressure on your stomach, triggering heartburn. If you’re overweight, losing a few pounds may help relieve some pressure from tight waistbands, which should reduce the incidence of heartburn.