While your stomach churns, two valves keep its contents tightly contained. This is important, because the mixture of food and gastric juices is highly acidic and decidedly unwelcome in other parts of your body. If the topmost valve fails and the acidic mixture escapes up your esophagus, the result is heartburn. As you already know, heartburn has nothing to do with your heart, although the burning chest pain can mimic heart trouble. To avoid heartburn, try these tips:
• Elevate yourself. Sit up after a meal, and use pillows or a wedge to prop your upper body while you sleep. This enlists the aid of gravity. (Also, it’s a good idea to avoid eating before you plan to lie down, such as in the 2 hours before bed.)
• Eat small portions. When your stomach is swollen with food, it’s easier for the acidic mixture to burst loose.
• Avoid trigger foods. Most heartburn sufferers can pinpoint problem foods that cause excess acid production. Your list won’t be the same as someone else’s, and potential problem foods—such as spicy meals, acidic fruit drinks, and fizzy soda pop—may be either harmless or exquisitely painful once they’re in your stomach.
• Don’t squeeze. The stomach is a soft pouch. Restrictive clothing, a tight belt, or a hefty layer of subcutaneous fat can put pressure on your stomach, encouraging it to squeeze open like a tube of toothpaste.
If you suffer from an occasional bout of heartburn, your best bet is to treat it with an over-the-counter antacid. Avoid milk—although it can temporarily soothe the stomach, the proteins it contains will soon stimulate increased acid production and possibly make your heartburn worse.
Finally, don’t ignore persistent heartburn. If heartburn strikes two or three times a week for more than 4 weeks, it’s time to bring in a doctor to check for more serious chronic problems. And if you have heartburn that gets worse before meals and fades away as you eat, it may be the sign of an ulcer (a tiny sore in the lining of your stomach), which doctors can often treat with a simple course of antibiotics.
Source of Information : Oreilly - Your Body Missing Manual