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Heartburn during fast

Heartburn (indigestion) The stomach is an acidic environment, designed to digest food and kill bacteria. The stomach and oesophagus (gullet) are normally protected from this acid, by the body's own special juices, and "valves" between these two organs. If either too much acid is produced or the valve at the bottom of the oesophagus is "faulty", you may experience heartburn.

Fasting usually reduces the amount of acid produced, but thoughts of food or the smell of it makes the brain order the stomach to produce more acid. Hence if there is a net increase in acid, heartburn could be a problem during the fast.

Those who are on regular medication for indigestion, such as antacids, eg Gaviscon, antihistamines, eg Zantac or proton pump inhibitors, eg Losec, Zoton, Nexium are advised to continue taking them, at the predawn meal for instance. The control of heartburn or belching can be aided by eating in moderation, avoiding oily, deep fried or very spicy food. Reducing your caffeine intake and/or stopping smoking can also be of benefit, if relevant. Preparations such as peppermint oil may help reduce belching or colic. Sleeping with your head raised on a few pillows and long term weight loss may also help prevent heartburn.

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