Health Watch - Heartburn: Quick Relief

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about dealing with heartburn. You can prevent heartburn by avoiding foods that tend to trigger it, and you can prevent and treat the occasional flare-up with medication. But what if that burning sensation flares up and you don’t have any medicine handy?

Heartburn occurs when stomach acids flow up into the esophagus. It affects about 40 percent of Americans at least once a month. If you don’t have an antacid with you when you get heartburn, you can reach for a stick of chewing gum for temporary relief.

Dr. Stuart Spechler, a digestive expert at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says this helps in a couple of ways. Chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva, which leads to swallowing, and swallowing helps clear acid out of the esophagus. Meanwhile, saliva is alkaline, so it will help neutralize any acid left in the esophagus.


February 2011

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