When I think about heartburn, I imagine overweight, middle-aged men sitting in greasy diners. The remains of large, fried meals litter the table before them. They lean back in their seats, pressing their hands to their chests, and an antacid commercial follows. The truth is all types of people – overweight, underweight, normal-weight, male and female – experience heartburn. In fact, 25 million Americans have it daily. That may not come as much of a surprise, especially if you are a frequent sufferer, but what might is that a good portion of those individuals are children.
More than two million Americans under age 18 are taking prescription medications to treat digestive or gastrointestinal complaints. The most common of these problems is acid reflux, generally associated with heartburn. Children, particularly young children, often experience heartburn, so the fact that this is occurring isn’t a cause for concern. What is, however, is that the rate of diagnosis has increased by 56 percent in four years. Why? It could be that many gastrointestinal, prescription medications have just recently been approved for kids. But, it could also be that parents are becoming more reliant on drugs to treat alternatively treatable conditions and that children’s habits are more heartburn-inducing than they used to be. Fortunately, both of these possibilities can be rectified with some lifestyle-changing awareness.
Avoiding heartburn is a matter of eating right. That means making smart decisions about what, how and when you and your family eat. Certain foods, such as chocolate, carbonated beverages, mint products, tomato sauce, mustard and vinegar, trigger heartburn. Cutting back or even cutting them out can lower the risk of suffering. Also, eating more slowly, and in smaller allotments, helps. When you have a large meal, more acid is able to build up in your esophagus, meaning smaller, more frequent consumption is better for digestion. However, don’t let an increase in frequency push the last meal right up to bedtime. To minimize heartburn, you want to stop eating at least three hours before you hit the sack. In fact, you don’t even want to lie down immediately after eating. So, schedule your meals, plan what you’re going to have, be sure that the food is heartburn-avoiding and take the time to savor the taste. Altering your life in those ways can help eliminate your and your child’s heartburn.
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