Many of us suffer the misery of burning pain behind the breastbone that often strikes just as we’re drifting off to sleep. Also known as reflux, or oesphagitis, it’s caused by acid from the stomach refluxing into the oesophagus (the gullet or foodpipe).
To help avoid it:
- Prop up the head of your bed. If your chest is raised, the stomach acid has to fight against gravity to move up into your oesophagus.
- Try avoiding tomatoes, onions and peppermint. These can allow acid to reflux back into the gullet, making symptoms worse. Coffee can also be a culprit, although only for some people. Cut these foods out one at a time to see if your symptoms improve.
- Don’t eat large meals, especially late at night.
- Don’t wear tight clothes or belts that hold your stomach in. They increase the upward pressure on your stomach.
- It’s important to be aware that, for women in particular, a heart attack can feel more like heartburn than the ‘classic’ sensation of a crushing chest pain. If your heartburn is new, severe, or accompanied by weakness, shortness of breath or unusual fatigue, seek help.