- You can find heartburn relief by taking OTC medications like Pepto Bismol or Tums.
- You can also try natural remedies like eating a banana, elevating your head, and drinking milk.
- Mixing half a teaspoon of baking soda with four ounces of water may help neutralize stomach acid.
- Visit Insider's Health Reference library for more advice.
Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, occurs when acid backs up from your stomach into your esophagus, causing burning in your chest. It is a common condition, affecting as many as 60 million Americans at least once a month.
Once heartburn starts, it can be difficult to relieve, and your best bet to prevent this discomfort is to avoid trigger foods, like caffeine, chocolate, or carbonated drinks that can bring heartburn on.
However, if you do experience heartburn here are eight ways to relieve it with at-home remedies and medications.
1. Change positions
If you're lying down when you start to notice symptoms, standing up and walking around may help ease the discomfort, says Ashil Gosalia, MD, a gastroenterologist with the Orlando Health Digestive Health Institute.
"Gravity can be your friend," Gosalia says. "The gravity will hopefully push the acid back down where it's supposed to be."
2. Elevate your head
Propping your head up can help prevent stomach acid from making its way into your esophagus and reduce the coughing, hoarseness, and throat clearing associated with heartburn, Reddy says.
3. Take some medicine
There are a few different types of medication you can reach for if you are experiencing heartburn. These include:
- Over-the-counter antacid medications, like Pepto Bismol, Tums, or Mylanta. These drugs can help relieve heartburn by neutralizing stomach acid to provide immediate relief, Reddy says.
- Histamine Type 2 Receptor Antagonists (H2 blockers), like Pepcid or Zantac. These drugs suppress acid production in the stomach to alleviate heartburn symptoms.
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are the most potent acid-suppressing medications on the market, Reddy says. Some, like Prilosec, are available over-the-counter and others, like Nexium, require a prescription. PPIs work by reducing stomach acid production, which reduces heartburn symptoms.
The right medication for you depends on the severity of your heartburn. If you experience heartburn every now and then, you should be able to effectively treat your symptoms with an acid reducer, like Tums, or an H2 blocker, like Pepcid.
PPIs are stronger drugs that come with some risks, like an increased risk of heart attacks and kidney disease. If you experience frequent heartburn (at least twice a week for several weeks), a PPI could be an effective treatment option, and you should discuss your symptoms with your doctor.
4. Drink milk
Milk is naturally alkaline, meaning it can help counteract the acidity of excess stomach acid backing up into your throat.
"When you get heartburn, milk can help reduce the effect of the burn by neutralizing some of that pesky acid," Gosalia says.
If you want to try drinking milk to relieve heartburn, reach for low-fat or skim milk. The fat content in 2% or whole milk can aggravate heartburn and make it worse.
5. Loosen your clothing
Loosening your pants can help alleviate heartburn symptoms by reducing abdominal pressure.
"There's a reason you sometimes have to loosen your belt after a large meal," Gosalia says. "It's to allow your stomach space to expand. When you're having heartburn, make sure it's not because your pants or belt are too tight."
6. Chew sugar-free gum
Chewing gum increases saliva production, which causes you to swallow more often. Frequent swallowing can help push acid back down toward your stomach and relieve heartburn symptoms.
A small 2005 study examined the effects of gum chewing on heartburn symptoms. Participants who chewed sugar-free gum 30 minutes after consuming a meal showed reduced acid levels in the esophagus.
7. Eat a banana
8. Mix up a drink of baking soda and water
A small amount of baking soda mixed with water can neutralize acid and provide heartburn relief, Gosalia says. Simply mix ½ teaspoon of baking soda with four ounces of water and drink.
High doses of baking soda can be harmful, Gosalia says, so check with your doctor before trying this remedy, especially if you are taking any prescription medications or are pregnant. If you are on a sodium-restricted diet you should also steer clear of consuming baking soda since it has lots of sodium.
Many people experience occasional heartburn after eating a big meal or consuming spicy foods. You can help relieve heartburn once it starts by getting up and walking around, taking an over-the-counter acid reducer, eating a banana, or drinking milk.
You can also take steps to prevent heartburn by avoiding foods that can cause heartburn, like chocolate, caffeine, and spicy foods. Avoiding eating late in the evening and limiting your intake of alcohol can also help prevent heartburn.