Heartburn: 5 Ways You Might Be Causing It And How To Avoid It

Most people, 60 million actually, experience heartburn or indigestion at least once a month in the United States. And generally speaking, the misery that ensues is avoidable.

Here are some of the most common causes of heartburn and what you can do to prevent it. 

Causes and Symptoms

Your Diet

If you have a diet that is heavy in spicy, fatty, or acidic foods, you’re likely no stranger to indigestion-induced misery. Foods like tomatoes, onions, mozzarella sticks, and citrus fruits all work against your stomach by increasing the level of hydrochloric acid, and as a result, you might experience acid reflux and heartburn. These foods are common triggers:

  • Tomatoes
  • Pizza
  • Chili powder
  • Potato chips
  • Bacon
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruits
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Anything deep-fried


A common complaint among smokers is increased heartburn. This happens because when you smoke, not only do you cause inflammation in your esophagus, but you also cause the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) to weaken. A weakened LES makes it easy for foods and stomach acid to be regurgitated and leads to bitter-tasting, painful burps, and hiccups. 

Being Overweight or Pregnant

While the two are not related, they do set you up for increased indigestion. When you have added weight around your abdomen, either from being pregnant or overweight, it puts additional pressure on your stomach. This causes your stomach contents to want to go elsewhere and the only place for stuff to go is up. Pregnancy-related reflux generally disappears once the mother gives birth.


Your stomach can hold up to one liter of food and will digest it over a period of several hours, but if you frequently suffer from reflux, you might want to consider taking in smaller amounts of food at a time. It gives the stomach room to digest things more comfortably and minimizes feeling like you’re going to explode. If you plan on indulging in a large meal, just be sure to wear your buffet pants!

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Underlying Issues

Indigestion is common, but when it happens frequently (after every meal, for example) or is accompanied by vomiting, severe cramps, or bloody reflux, there could be an underlying condition. If you experience any of these additional symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor. Common ailments that can cause indigestion include Celiac and Crohn’s diseases, stomach ulcers, and even stomach cancer.

Options For Relief

Thankfully for many people, indigestion can be avoided or treated at home. Some options for relief include

  • Drink Lots of Water

Water has many health benefits but if you need quick relief for hiccups or reflux, take down an 8 oz glass of water. It will help neutralize your stomach acids and offer instant relief. There are many other ways to stay more hydrated if you can’t drink lots of water only.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar

When diluted with water, apple cider vinegar can improve gut health. It contains prebiotics and probiotics, which are both necessary for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. 

  • Avoid Smoking

Since smoking is known to trigger heartburn and acid reflux, it makes sense that not smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke can reverse the effects. 

  • Add More Dairy

Provided you don’t have a dairy allergy, milk and yogurt can offer relief for your symptoms. They contain probiotics and can neutralize stomach acid on the spot.

  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol Intake

Beverages that contain alcohol and caffeine are also acidic in nature. If you can’t avoid them altogether, it’s to your benefit to enjoy them in moderation.

  • Change Your Eating Habits

Avoiding triggering foods, adding alkaline foods (nuts, bananas), and eating smaller meals are all equally beneficial when it comes to minimizing indigestion symptoms.

  • Homeopathic Remedies

Peppermint oil, ginger root, licorice, and chamomile are all notable herbal remedies for heartburn relief. Infusing them as oils or drinking them as tea can offer fast relief for those who wish to treat indigestion without medication. These remedies are not FDA approved, though, so check with your doctor prior to using them. 

  • Prescription or OTC Medication

There are a handful of known medicinal options for more severe cases of heartburn. Prilosec, Famotidine, and Calcium tabs (Tums) thus far haven’t demonstrated negative side effects to those who use them. So long as you take them as directed and discard unused medication. 

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Zantac and ranitidine, however, are no longer available on the market in the US and are linked to hundreds of lawsuits related to cancer. These products contain the carcinogen NMDA and are currently linked to stomach, liver, and throat cancer. If it pertains to you, you may qualify for compensation. Visit for more information. 

Heartburn afflicts over 15 million Americans on a daily basis and millions more worldwide but there are several options for relief and avoidance. Keep in mind that while most cases aren’t severe, some cases should involve follow-ups with a physician as they could involve more serious underlying conditions.