How to use milk for heartburn relief

Written by peter mitchell
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How to use milk for heartburn relief
Milk can provide a short break from heartburn symptoms. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Heartburn is a sharp, uncomfortable sensation in the chest. It happens when the acid in your stomach leaks back up into your oesophagus -- a tube that runs from your mouth to your stomach. In some cases, heartburn can feel like your throat is on fire. That's why the idea of cold, soothing milk seems like a good remedy. While milk isn't going to stop future bouts of heartburn, it may provide some welcome temporary relief.

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Soother

Milk can soothe heartburn or acid reflux when it occurs, according to the NHS. A glass of milk may be enough to relieve the worst symptoms when they appear, though it's not a cure in itself. Because some people find that heartburn attacks during the night when they're lying down, the NHS suggests keeping a glass of milk next your bed just in case. Try pouring out a glass just before bed so it's as fresh and cool as possible when you wake up.

Milk types

Not all milk is likely to offer heartburn relief in the same way. Skimmed milk, for example, contains much less dairy fat than whole milk. In some people, the fat and protein can make heartburn worse. In particular, those with lactose intolerance should avoid whole milk and where possible semi-skimmed milk for heartburn relief. Instead, reach for skimmed milk for the lightest fat content with some soothing properties. In serious cases, avoid milk altogether.

General tips

When drinking milk, get it straight from the fridge. When it comes to soothing heartburn, colder is better. The cool temperature alone offers some brief respite from acid reflux. Don't drink a big glass in one rushed gulp. Sip it slowly to avoid triggering more reflux or putting more pressure on your stomach. If you feel sick while drinking, sip slower or stop drinking the milk completely.

Milk of magnesia

Milk of magnesia is not milk in the traditional sense, but it is used to treat heartburn and indigestion. Milk of magnesia, or magnesium hydroxide, works as an antacid, neutralising the acid in your stomach. That can relieve some of the pain. It comes as a liquid, so generally works faster than pills. Take milk of magnesia as directed on the bottle, usually when symptoms first appear soon after eating. One thing to note: a possible side-effect of milk of magnesia is diarrhoea.

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