Stomach acid is naturally produced by your body to break down food for proper digestion. Although essential for proper digestion, stomach acid can flow back into the esophagus and can cause acid reflux, heartburn and regurgitation. According to the Mayo Clinic, certain foods can relax the lower esophageal sphincter or increase stomach acid production. Occasional heartburn is common, but chronic burning in the upper chest and throat may indicate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Modifying your diet slightly by changing what you eat and the frequency of your eating can reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces, and reduce the risk of GERD.
Eat smaller meals and eat more slowly. By shrinking the size of your meals, your stomach has an easier time digesting food. An over-full stomach puts extra pressure on the esophageal sphincter, which increases the likelihood of reflux. Chewing food more completely eases digestion.
Eliminate foods from your diet, one at a time, which are frequently linked to stomach upset. These include highly acidic tomato-based foods as well as caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, spicy foods, carbonated beverages, onions, garlic and mint. Cut out fatty and fried foods which are difficult to digest.
Consult with your doctor about medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements. Many common medicines, as well as pregnancy, can bring on heartburn.
Try taking antacids, which neutralize stomach acid, before or after meals. H2 blockers such as Pepcid AC and Zantac reduce stomach acid, as do proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec OTC.
Raise the head of your bed about six inches (extra pillows don't work) if you experience reflux when lying down. You can place a wedge-shaped insert under your mattress or use books or bricks under the legs.
Smoking and obesity contribute to acid reflux. Smoking weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, which makes reflux more likely. Obesity adds to abdominal pressure which can force food back into the esophagus.
See your doctor if symptoms do not subside after trying dietary and lifestyle changes and over-the-counter remedies.
Seek immediate medical attention if your stomach distress is accompanied by: Vomiting of bloody or black material Stools that are black and tarry Crushing or squeezing sensation in your chest. Heart attacks are sometimes mistaken for heartburn.