Are you guilty of these habits that cause horrible heartburn?

Are you guilty of these habits that cause horrible heartburn?

You know eating spicy nachos will make you burp fire, but these other things might not be helping, either.

1. You drink loads of coffee

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There are two main causes of acid reflux, Dr. Bucobo says: an underlying medical problem like a hiatal hernia, which happens when the upper part of your stomach pushes up into your chest cavity, or a trigger that relaxes the sphincter muscle in your esophagus that normally blocks stomach acid from rising back up your throat.

Certain foods and behaviours can relax the muscle.

Although Dr. Bucobo says food triggers are different for every patient, certain ones pop up again and again.

Caffeinated foods and drinks-like coffee, tea, and even chocolate - are big culprits.

"I've had patients who think they're doing everything right, but then I have them record a food diary," Dr. Bucobo says. "I look and they've been drinking three bottles of caffeinated iced tea a day!"

2. You partied a little too hard

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If your night involved booze and cigarettes, you might pay the price later.

While some experts believe both alcohol and tobacco affect the pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter, their effect on your saliva may also flare up heartburn, too.

Both alcohol and tobacco are dehydrating, which decreases the amount of saliva in your mouth.

"If you have less saliva, you're not going to be able to clear as much acid in your stomach," Dr. Bucobo says. And some of that acid can make its way back up into your throat.

3. You chew gum

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If you're a fan of peppermint gum, you might want to stop chewing (or switch to a different flavor).

Like caffeine, peppermint also relaxes the sphincter muscle that keeps your stomach acid at bay, according to Dr. Bucobo.

So anything you eat or drink that contains peppermint oil-teas, candies, and desserts - could be the culprit. Keeping a food diary is a good way to identify triggers.

4. You snack all night long

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It might be best to steer clear of late-night eating if you're prone to heartburn.

Dr. Bucobo tells his patients with acid reflux to avoid eating at least two hours before bed.

"As soon as you lay down, gravity makes things worse," he says.

When you're flat on your back (or side or stomach), it makes it a lot easier for acid to wash back up your esophagus.

And eating before bed kick-starts digestion, meaning you'll have even more acid in your stomach.

5. You went back for seconds - and thirds

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You know that moment about 20 minutes after you scarf down Thanksgiving dinner when your chest starts to burn?

That's an after-effect of going overboard.

As soon as you start eating, your body revs up digestion and starts producing stomach acid.

The more food you put in, the longer it takes to move that food, and the acid, to your intestines.

"So your body is producing all this acid and it's not emptying out into the small intestine," Dr. Bucobo says. "That means there's more of a chance that some of that acid will come up out of the stomach and into the esophagus."

Graphic: Men's Health

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