We often think of heartburn as a food-induced pain resulting from eating too much too quickly, or as something we experience when we’re stressed. Typically this is the case. But the truth is that heartburn can be caused by an unlikely source: medication.

Heartburn occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes and permits stomach juices to flow into the esophagus. Since there are numerous medications that relax the LES, many meds can trigger heartburn. This includes medications that treat asthma and breathing difficulties, heart and blood pressure, arthritis and inflammation, depression and pain, muscle spasms, cancer, and many others. However, the National Heartburn Alliance has some step-by-step tips for easing heartburn triggered by medication. Here are four:

  • Keep a record. By writing down the name of the medicine and the time you took it, you’ll be able to place your heartburn symptoms within a time frame. This first step is an effective way to help you determine which medication might be causing the pain.

  • Contact your doctor. If you’ve determined that a nonprescription medicine is triggering your heartburn, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor, who can advise you on the risks and benefits of the medicine. It may turn out that you don’t even need that medication.

  • Switch your medication. If you’ve determined that a prescription medicine is triggering your heartburn, you should contact your primary care provider. He or she will be able to figure out if there is an alternative medicine that provides the same relief but doesn’t give you heartburn.

  • Take heartburn meds. This final step refers to the three types of over-the-counter heartburn medications: antacids, H2-receptor antagonists, and proton pump inhibitors. Just because you see the irony in treating a medicine-induced disease with medicine doesn’t mean you should shy away from one of the most common ways of easing heartburn.