WITHDRAWAL OF RANITIDINE In April 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested that all forms of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) ranitidine (Zantac) be removed from the U.S. market. This recommendation was made because unacceptable levels of NDMA, a probable carcinogen (cancer-causing chemical), were found in some ranitidine products. If you’re prescribed ranitidine, talk with your doctor about safe alternative options before stopping the drug. If you’re taking OTC ranitidine, stop taking the drug and talk with your healthcare professional about alternative options. Instead of taking unused ranitidine products to a drug take-back site, dispose of them according to the product’s instructions or by following the FDA’s guidance.

Ranitidine, brand name Zantac, is now marketed as Zantac 360, which contains a different active ingredient (famotidine). Famotidine is in the same class as ranitidine and works the same way but has not been found to contain unacceptable levels of NDMA.

Heartburn is uncomfortable, but you can find effective relief with home remedies, lifestyle changes, and over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

Heartburn is a burning sensation in your chest and throat. It may be triggered by the foods you eat, particularly spicy, fatty, or acidic foods.

In some cases, heartburn can be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This long-term condition has many potential causes.

Whatever the cause, heartburn is painful and inconvenient. This article covers home remedies, medications, and lifestyle tips to help you get rid of heartburn, plus ways to prevent heartburn before it happens.

Sometimes other words are used to refer to heartburn, like acid reflux or GERD. But they do not all mean the same thing. To treat heartburn, it’s helpful to understand the difference.

Heartburn is a symptom. It means the feeling of burning pain in the middle of your chest. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the pain typically starts behind your breastbone and moves up toward your throat.

Acid reflux happens when your stomach acid travels too high up in your digestive system. Usually, gravity and your digestive system work together to keep stomach acid down in your stomach where it belongs. But sometimes it can rise up into your esophagus and cause irritation, heartburn, or other symptoms.

You might have heard of GERD — it’s a shorter name for gastroesophageal reflux disease. While this condition can have many different causes and symptoms, it often involves heartburn. GERD can sometimes lead to serious complications, so if you have heartburn frequently, talk with a doctor.

If you’re experiencing heartburn, you’ll be glad to hear that there are several options for at-home fixes.

But, like medications, home remedies and supplements can have risks. Some can interact with medications or cause other problems.

If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or chestfeeding, or have other health conditions, you may need to avoid certain remedies or supplements.

Herbal remedies and supplements are not tested for safety and effectiveness in the same way that medications are. So, it’s not always possible to know exactly what’s in the bottle you’re buying and what effects it could have.

It’s always best to talk with your doctor before trying these options.

You might have a heartburn remedy at hand in your kitchen without even knowing it. Baking soda can calm some episodes of heartburn by neutralizing your stomach acid. To do this, dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it slowly.

To be safe, only use this baking soda remedy every once in a while, not frequently. Talk with your doctor about how to use baking soda safely. According to a 2013 case study, this can help you avoid harming your health.

Licorice root is an old herbal remedy that may help with heartburn. A 2020 review showed it could help increase the mucous coating of your esophageal lining. This may protect your esophagus from damage caused by stomach acid and allow it to heal.

Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is a supplement that contains licorice. DGL has been processed to remove much of its glycyrrhizin, a compound that can cause unwanted effects.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) warns that eating too much licorice or DGL may raise your blood pressure, lower your potassium levels, and interfere with certain medications. Always talk with your doctor before taking licorice or DGL supplements.

Apple cider vinegar is another home remedy that some people use to treat heartburn. Some believe that drinking apple cider vinegar could improve your digestive health.

No solid evidence supports this claim yet, according to the Department of Defense Dietary Supplement Resource. But consuming small amounts of diluted apple cider vinegar is typically considered safe.

Drinking large amounts or undiluted vinegar can come with risks. These include damaging your teeth, hurting your throat, or even triggering acid reflux.

If you decide to try this remedy, dilute 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in an 8-ounce (237-milliliter) water and drink it after your meal.

According to an older study from 2005, chewing sugar-free gum for a 1/2 hour after meals may also help lower heartburn. But the results are based on just 31 people, so the evidence isn’t very strong. More research is needed to know for sure whether this method helps with heartburn.

Chewing gum stimulates saliva production and swallowing. This might help dilute and clear stomach acid from your esophagus.

In general, gum chewing may benefit some digestive conditions. But a small 2015 study shows it can worsen others. Check with your doctor to see whether this method is worth trying for you.

Ginger has a long history of use in Chinese medicine, according to the NCCIH. This herb can help relieve nausea, so some believe it may be worth trying for heartburn, too.

Consider adding grated or diced ginger root to your favorite stir-fry recipes, soups, and other foods. To make ginger tea, steep raw ginger root, dried ginger root, or ginger tea bags in boiling water.

However, large doses of ginger may actually cause heartburn or other problems, so use it in small amounts.

It’s probably best to avoid ginger ale. Carbonated beverages are a common heartburn trigger, and most brands of ginger ale are made with ginger flavoring rather than the real thing.

Loosen your clothing

Heartburn happens when the contents of your stomach rise up into your esophagus, where stomach acids can burn the tissue.

In some cases, you might be having an episode of heartburn because tight clothing is compressing your stomach.

If that’s the case, the first thing to do is loosen your belt — or your pants, dress, or whatever else is holding you tight.

Try not to slouch

Your posture can also contribute to heartburn. If you’re slouching, try sitting up straighter. If needed, you can use cushions or supports to help you maintain a more upright position.

An upright posture puts less pressure on your abdomen. Pressure on your abdomen after eating could cause stomach acid to rise into your esophagus, leading to heartburn.

A 2021 case study suggests that long-term posture problems could contribute to GERD. In the study, correcting poor posture eliminated reflux symptoms. But more research is needed to understand the connection.

Changing your position is probably not a fix-all, but it may help in some cases.

Elevate your upper body

Lying down can make heartburn worse. When it comes time for bed, adjust your sleeping surface to raise your upper body.

Lifting your head with extra pillows may not be enough. To get relief, try elevating your body from the waist up.

You can change the angle of your sleeping surface by using a wedge pillow. Or, if you have an adjustable bed, you can set it at a suitable angle.

Avoid cigarette smoke

You probably already know that smoking is bad for your health. But did you know that smoking can contribute to heartburn? If you’re a smoker and you get an attack of heartburn, don’t light up.

Smoking might be a go-to coping strategy when you’re uncomfortable, but it’s not going to make that burning feeling go away. In fact, the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) says it can actually cause acid reflux.

When medication is needed, your doctor or pharmacist can help you choose one that’s right for you.

OTC heartburn medications

Plenty of OTC heartburn medications are available for use. These medications come in three types:

  • antacids, which help to neutralize stomach acid right away
  • H2 blockers, which lower the amount of stomach acid you make by blocking certain receptors in your stomach
  • proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which lower the amount of stomach acid you make and may be more helpful for severe or long-term symptoms, according to the ACG

Some heartburn medications of these types are also available as prescription drugs.

To prevent heartburn or stop it from starting, there are several methods you can try.

  • Avoid eating right before bedtime. A bedtime snack may be tempting. But the ACG suggests that if you leave yourself at least 2 to 3 hours to digest before lying down, you’ll lower your risk of heartburn.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. If you drink, reducing the amount you drink or eliminating alcoholic drinks from your routine can lower your heartburn risk.
  • Watch out for trigger foods. Did you know that you can help stop acid reflux and heartburn by changing your diet? Foods to avoid include:
    • spicy foods
    • tomatoes, including products like tomato sauce
    • chocolate
    • greasy foods
    • coffee
    • mint
    • acidic foods, like oranges, lemons, and limes
  • Quit smoking. If you smoke, quitting is a great way to reduce heartburn.
  • Try relaxation exercises. The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) recommends relaxation strategies for heartburn relief. Your doctor can also refer you to a licensed mental health professional.
  • Manage your weight. If you are overweight or have obesity, losing weight can help with your heartburn, according to the AGA.

How do you know when heartburn is serious?

If your heartburn is severe or happens often, it’s a good idea to speak with a doctor. In some cases, your ongoing symptoms could be caused by GERD.

GERD can often be treated with lifestyle changes and medications. In rare cases, experts say surgery can also be used to treat the condition.

It’s not always easy to know what’s causing your chest pain. Heartburn and heart attack can have similar symptoms. If you’re concerned about your symptoms, contact your local emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room.

Other symptoms of a heart attack may include:

When heartburn hits, many OTC treatments, home remedies, and lifestyle adjustments may provide relief.

Adjusting your daily habits can also help prevent heartburn symptoms from developing in the first place. For example, try to:

  • avoid common heartburn triggers, such as fatty and spicy foods
  • stop eating several hours before bedtime
  • quit smoking if you smoke
  • lose weight if you have overweight or obesity

If you experience heartburn more than two or three times per week, talk with your doctor. In some cases, they might prescribe medications or other treatments.