4 Heartburn Myths and the Truth About Them
By Kevin Edwards, President
Everyone has suffered a bout of heartburn at one time or another. But, if your aging relative suffers from frequent heartburn, you may be following advice that’s outdated or a myth. Knowing what’s true and what’s not may be the key to helping the senior in your life have fewer bouts of heartburn.
Below are 4 myths and the facts you should know.
Myth #1: Heartburn is really nothing to worry about.
Truth: It depends. If the older adult only has heartburn occasionally, then there’s no need for concern. However, if they have it often or if it’s severe, it could be as sign of another problem. Frequent or severe heartburn could mean they have a hiatal hernia. Or, they may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Left untreated, it can cause damage to the esophagus.
If the senior has frequent or serious heartburn, make an appointment with their doctor. Home care can provide transportation to the appointment, if needed.
Myth #2: Drinking milk can relieve heartburn.
Truth: Only temporarily. Drinking a glass of milk might calm heartburn symptoms for a short time. However, the latest scientific research shows that milk eventually increases the amount of acid in the stomach, which means that heartburn will likely return later.
Instead of drinking milk, the doctor may recommend using over the counter medications or a prescription medication. A home care provider can remind them to take the medicine.
Myth #3: Antacids are perfectly safe, so older adults can take several of them throughout the day.
Truth: Although antacids are safe, taking too many of them can cause problems like constipation or diarrhea, depending on how their body reacts. Also, if your aging relative is going through bottle after bottle of antacid tablets, they may have a more serious problem and should see a doctor.
A home care provider can monitor the number of antacid tablets the older adult is taking and let family caregivers know if there seems to be a problem.
Myth #4: Medicine is the only way to take care of heartburn.
Truth: Although medicine can help to manage heartburn, there are also several lifestyle changes that may also be useful, such as:
- Avoiding eating right before bed.
- Eating slowly.
- Avoiding foods that trigger heartburn.
- Raising the head of the bed.
A home care provider can prepare meals earlier in the evening so that the senior eats at least two hours before bedtime. Home care providers can also make foods that don’t include things that trigger heartburn.