DISCLAIMER: This post is an advertisement for Rennie but is based on my own story and opinions.
I’m not one for oversharing these days, but some bodily functions are worth discussing and today I want to write a blog post about heartburn. It’s a complaint that I’ve suffered with occasionally over the years. Most episodes of heartburn have been brief and mild but in 2010 I had a pretty lengthy period of indigestion that lasted a few weeks. I did a lot of reading up on the topic then and learned how to look after my digestive health. It’s honestly really important because having a stomach complaint can seriously impact on your happiness. When I was asked to collaborate with Rennie and write a post about heartburn, I jumped at the chance.
What is heartburn?
For me, heartburn feels like a burn in my throat that doesn’t clear by drinking water. It can feel like heat or pain and can be anywhere from my chest to my throat. Some people refer to it as acid reflux because that is usually the cause. There’s a ring of muscles, called the sphincter muscle, that should stay tight at the entrance to your stomach. When this ring of muscles doesn’t do its job properly for any reason, stomach acid can pop up into the oesophagus, also known as the food pipe. If that sounds unpleasant, that’s because it is! There are a number of things that can cause heartburn and most of them are harmless and can be treated with over the counter medications. I want to add that you should always consult a healthcare professional if you have an extended period of heartburn or if you’re not sure what’s going on.
What causes it?
When I suffer from heartburn, it can be for a number of reasons, but they’re usually quite obvious. Eating too much spicy or acidic food can be a cause, but it can be something like fatty foods, onions or dark chocolate too. You might need to look for alternatives to your usual choices. It will be different for each individual. Another cause can be lying down with a full stomach or lying flat too soon after eating. There’s also pregnancy. Any woman who has been pregnant will tell you that the hormone changes added to the position of the baby can cause almost unbearable heartburn. Personally, I was really lucky that I didn’t struggle too much with heartburn during my own pregnancy but I’ve known a lot of women who did.
*Medicines can affect the unborn baby. Always talk to your pharmacist or doctor before taking any medicine in pregnancy.
There’s another cause that is a trigger for me and that’s stress. In 2009 I experienced a traumatic incident and a few months later, when my brain got round to processing that incident, I had sudden, unexplained and prolonged heartburn. Over the counter products should not be used for prolonged periods of time, so I had to tackle the route of the problem. I visited the pharmacist and GP who were pretty sure it was not related to a physical problem. I had to tackle the problem with diet changes, address the issues that were upsetting me and I consulted a healthcare specialist in stress who provided massage therapies to help me relax.
How to Avoid Heartburn
I’ve found the best way for me to avoid heartburn is to take care of my stomach. I can’t tell you how miserable I was for the time that I was living with almost constant heartburn, caused by stress. It was a nightmare. It’s important for me to eat well, keep my stress levels low and listen to what my stomach is telling me. If certain foods cause heartburn, I cut them out or restrict them. If I have any problems with stress, it’s usually my stomach that tells me I need to slow down before I have any other symptoms. I also try not to eat too late at night.
There are loads of diet tips on the Rennie website that tell you what to avoid and it suggests alternatives. For example, if you suffer from heartburn, avoid smoothies with citrus in them for breakfast and try a blended fruit and yogurt ice-lolly for an on-the-go breakfast instead. What a clever idea! Now that summer’s here, I think I might try that.
What treatments are out there?
If your indigestion is mild and you’ve already consulted a healthcare professional, you might choose to take an antacid like Rennie Peppermint. I personally find the taste of Rennies quite pleasant, so I don’t find them difficult to take. There’s also a ©Rennie Liquid Heartburn Relief Oral Suspension in their range and ©Rennie Heartburn, Indigestion & Wind Relief Chewable Tablets. Obviously, you should consult a doctor or pharmacist if you’re pregnant too or on medication because over the counter remedies aren’t suitable for everyone and always read the label.
Have you suffered from heartburn? I’d love to hear other people’s stories and how they address the complaint. Share in the comments below!
This post is in conjunction with Rennie® but is based on my own personal experiences and all the opinions in this article are my own.