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What You Should Understand About Heartburn

A burning sensation behind your breastbone in your chest is known as heartburn. Your oesophagus, the tube that delivers food from your mouth to your stomach, becomes irritated, which causes stomach acid to move back up it. A bitter taste could also be present in your mouth or throat. Heartburn sensations may worsen right after eating or when you’re resting down.

Heartburn symptoms can typically be successfully treated at home. However, if you experience recurrent heartburn that makes it challenging to swallow or eat, your symptoms may be an indication of a more serious medical condition.

Symptoms of Heartburn

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), heartburn symptoms can range from slight discomfort to highly unpleasant. A burning sensation in your chest and throat is the most typical heartburn symptom.

What is the sensation of heartburn?

The middle of your chest feels as though it is burning or unpleasant when you have heartburn. You might also encounter:

  • The feeling of burning in your throat
  • Behind your breastbone, any pressure or discomfort
  • Having trouble swallowing
  • Discomfort that gets worse after bending over or lying down
  • An aftertaste that is tart, sour, or acidic
  • Hoarseness or coughing

Heartburn lasts for how long?

People can respond differently to heartburn. Heartburn symptoms typically start soon after eating and may linger for a few minutes to many hours, or even longer.

Depending on the underlying cause, you may endure symptoms for a while. Additionally, it relies on what you do as soon as symptoms appear. For instance, heartburn symptoms may persist as your body digests the offending food. Other times, if you get up after eating rather than reclining down, it goes away.

You might experience heartburn symptoms for a shorter period of time or with fewer episodes if you use over-the-counter or prescription drugs as part of a treatment plan.

Diagnosis of heartburn

According to the NIDDK, a doctor will typically diagnose heartburn based on your symptoms and medical background. Your doctor can suggest a course of treatment at the same appointment that you receive the diagnosis.

If lifestyle modifications, over-the-counter drugs, or prescription drugs don’t help your symptoms, you might need to contact your healthcare provider once more. This could indicate that you have GERD, a more serious condition.

Your doctor will examine your medical history and inquire about your symptoms to determine whether you have GERD. They might also request a number of tests, such as:

  • Acid (pH) probe ambulatory test. Your doctor will insert a tiny tube into your oesophagus through your nose. Stomach acid in your oesophagus is measured by a sensor at the tube’s tip.
  • pH monitoring in the oesophagus. To measure acid reflux, your doctor applies a capsule to the lining of your oesophagus.
  • X-ray. A gritty substance that coats your upper digestive tract will be served to you. Then, your doctor will examine your upper intestine, stomach, and oesophagus using X-ray imaging.
  • Endoscopy. To check for an oesophagal or stomach lining ulcer, your doctor will put a tiny tube down your throat and into your stomach.
  • Manometry of the oesophagus. In order to measure the contractions of your oesophagus during swallowing, your doctor will insert a tube through your nose into your oesophagus.

Your doctor will be able to give you treatment options based on your diagnosis to help lessen or get rid of your symptoms.


Heartburn usually occurs when stomach contents rise back up into the oesophagus. A tube called the oesophagus transports food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach.

The lower oesophagal sphincter is the junction where your oesophagus and stomach meet. When food passes from the oesophagus and enters the stomach, the lower oesophagal sphincter should close.

The lower oesophagal sphincter can weaken or stop working adequately in some persons. This causes the stomach’s contents to flow back into the oesophagus. Heartburn symptoms can be brought on by stomach acids causing oesophagal irritation. Reflux is the name for this condition.

Your likelihood of experiencing heartburn may increase due to a number of circumstances and other variables. Risk elements consist of:

  • The hiatus hernia. When the top portion of your stomach pushes through the diaphragm, usually due to a weakening or tear, this condition is known as a hiatal hernia.
  • Pregnancy. According to a 2015 comprehensive review, heartburn is frequent during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester.
  • Smoking. There is a tenuous link between smoking and an increased risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It is noteworthy since, according to 2018 research, those who discontinued or reduced tobacco usage were three times more likely to see a drop in heartburn symptoms.
  • Having obesity or being overweight. According to a 2014 research, obesity is a significant risk factor for GERD, with heartburn and regurgitation being the typical symptoms of this disorder.
  • Taking particular medicines. According to the NIDDK, some drugs, including aspirin, ibuprofen, sedatives, and blood pressure medications, can raise your risk of heartburn.

You could discover that some foods and beverages can make your heartburn symptoms worse. These may consist of:

  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Fried foods
  • High-fat foods
  • Peppermint
  • Spicy foods
  • Tomatoes and tomato-based products

Additional factors that may cause heartburn include:

  • Eating a substantial meal
  • Immediately after eating, lying down
  • Wearing restrictive clothing


Heartburn that occurs occasionally rarely warrants worry. But persistent heartburn can be a sign of GERD. It’s possible that surgery or prescription medication will be needed to treat this issue.

According to a 2018 analysis, untreated GERD may result in other health issues such as esophagitis, also known as Barrett’s oesophagus or esophagitis, an inflammation of the oesophagus. The lining of the oesophagus changes as a result of Barrett’s oesophagus, which can raise your chance of developing oesophagal cancer.

Heartburn that persists over time might lower your quality of life. If you find it difficult to go about your regular life or are severely limited in your activities owing to heartburn, see your doctor discuss a course of therapy.

When to call a doctor

Many people get heartburn on occasion. However, if you get heartburn more than twice per week or if it doesn’t go away after therapy, you should see a doctor. This can be a symptom of something more serious.

According to the NIDDK, heartburn frequently coexists with other gastrointestinal disorders including GERD or ulcers, which are lesions in the oesophagal and stomach lining. If you experience heartburn and you start to:

  • Having trouble swallowing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Red, tarry, or black stools
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Backache that moves through your shoulder
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Chest discomfort and perspiration

Heart attacks and heartburn are unrelated. However, because the symptoms of heartburn and heart attacks can be so similar, some patients may mistake them. The following are signs of a heart attack, according to the NHS:

  • Severe or debilitating ache in the chest
  • Having trouble breathing
  • Feeling flimsy, dizzy, or faint
  • Jaw ache
  • Arm ache



If you experience heart attack symptoms, dial 999 immediatley.


A combination of lifestyle modifications and medications can help reduce the symptoms of occasional heartburn.

Modifying your lifestyle, such as keeping a healthy weight, can help you feel better. Additional suggestions include:

  • Avoiding substances that make your symptoms worse
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothes
  • Avoid falling asleep immediately after eating
  • If you smoke, consider a programme to stop smoking and other helpful support options with your healthcare provider.

Treatment options for heartburn

Heartburn can frequently be treated with over-the-counter drugs. Three kinds of over-the-counter drugs are listed by the FDA Trusted Source for managing sporadic heartburn. These consist of:

Antacids. These drugs aid in stomach acid neutralisation. They are able to quickly alleviate heartburn symptoms. Typical antacids include:

  • Mylanta
  • Rolaids
  • Tums
  • Alka-Seltzer
  • Gaviscon

View Antacids here.

Inhibitor of histamine-2 (H2). H2 blockers lessen the stomach’s production of acid. They consist of:

  • Cimetidine (Tagamet HB) (Tagamet HB)
  • Famotidine (Pepcid Complete or Pepcid AC)
  • Nizatidine (Axid AR) (Axid AR)

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs lessen the level of stomach acid. They can also aid in oesophagal tissue healing. They consist of:

  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid 24 HR) (Prevacid 24 HR)
  • Esomeprazole (Nexium 24 HR) (Nexium 24 HR)
  • Magnesium omeprazole (Prilosec)
  • Sodium bicarbonate with omeprazole (Zegerid)

These drugs may have negative effects despite the fact that they can be useful. Diarrhoea or constipation are side effects of antacids. PPIs may result in nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain. To find out if you’re at risk for any drug interactions, discuss any drugs you’re currently taking with your doctor.

Your doctor might be able to prescribe stronger variations of these medications if over-the-counter remedies are unable to relieve your symptoms.

How does the heartburn remedy antacid work?

Antacids assist in neutralising stomach acid production. They quickly and temporarily relieve heartburn symptoms. When compared to H2 blockers and PPIs, which lower or block stomach acid, antacids function differently.

They are not meant for regular use. Antacids should be taken soon after a meal or whenever you have symptoms.

Antacids are available as liquid, tablets, or gummies. The majority include one or more of the following components:

  • Aluminium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium

Although antacids are normally regarded as safe, they can have certain undesirable side effects, like constipation or diarrhoea.

Make sure to adhere to the label’s instructions and refrain from using antacids excessively. If you have any concerns about using an antacid or if you have any side effects, consult your doctor.

Prevention of Heartburn

You can take a variety of actions to lessen the likelihood of heartburn:

  • Avoid eating or drinking anything that can make your symptoms worse, including acidic foods, foods heavy in fat, spicy foods, chocolate, alcoholic beverages, mint, and carbonated beverages.
  • After eating, wait at least 3 hours before lying down.
  • To raise the head of your bed, put blocks or books under it. This may lessen the likelihood of stomach acid entering your oesophagus again.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing since it can put a strain on your lower oesophagal sphincter and stomach.
  • Instead of two or three large meals, try eating smaller, more frequent meals to lessen the strain on your digestive system.
  • Chew some sugar-free gum after a meal. According to a 2014 study, chewing gum can boost saliva production, which helps to reduce stomach acid and force it back into the stomach.
  • If you smoke, discuss quitting methods with your doctor.
  • Sustain a healthy weight.