How To Identify Heartburn

If you get heartburn every once in a while or more, you're not alone. According to the experts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), over 60 million Americans suffer from at least one bout of heartburn on a monthly basis. 15 million Americans report experiencing heartburn daily.

The word "heartburn" pretty much explains the feeling when you have it, even if it has nothing to do with your heart. But what causes that burning feeling in your chest? There are several conditions that may lead to heartburn. One of these is acid reflux, which is when food you eat goes in the reverse direction, backing up into your esophagus, rather than staying in your stomach. If you experience acid reflux on a consistent basis, this will oftentimes be GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Other signs you may be experiencing heartburn include an acidic taste in your mouth or pain when you're bending over (via NIH).

Identifying heartburn can be fairly simple, but what are the best ways to treat it or make sure you don't get heartburn in the first place?

How to manage and avoid heartburn

As you might imagine, one of the best ways to avoid heartburn is to stay away from spicy foods, as spicy foods are a common trigger. But food doesn't necessarily have to be spicy to cause heartburn. According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, other foods that can lead to heartburn in certain people include fried foods, ketchup, citrusy foods or beverages, chocolate, and alcohol, among others.

If you have heartburn, there are various home remedies that may provide relief. One option is consuming a small amount of baking soda mixed with water, Cleveland Clinic dietician Julia Zumpano tells Parade. "Baking soda is a base that offsets the acidity in your esophagus and your gut," Zumpano explains. Zumpano says not to overdo it, though, otherwise you may be become nauseated. She advises using only a teaspoon of baking soda with eight ounces of water.

Zumpano also suggests trying skim or low-fat milk. Foods such as banana and honeydew may also help, because like over-the-counter heartburn medications, they contain magnesium. Despite being acidic, Dr. Brenda Rea, a professor of medicine at Loma Linda University, says apple cider vinegar may be effective if you get heartburn as a result of your stomach not having enough acid. 

If heartburn or nausea persists despite these adjustments or you are experiencing severe chest pain, you should make an appointment with your doctor, suggests Mayo Clinic.