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General Heartburn Information and Related Conditions

  • Heartburn is a painful condition caused by stomach acid rising up into the oesophagus (gullet or food pipe) and touching the unprotected lining.

  • If you get heartburn two or more times per week.

  • When stomach contents flow back up into the oesophagus, this is called acid reflux. Heartburn is the most common name for the burning pain you feel when this happens.

  • Heartburn is caused by stomach acid rising up into the oesophagus. When you lie down in bed, this can make it easier for acid to escape the stomach and to irritate the oesophagus lining, causing the pain of heartburn.

  • The exact signs of heartburn vary from person to person, but most include burning pain and related discomfort. If you experience heartburn two or more times per week, this is frequent heartburn. People with frequent heartburn are also more likely to experience one or more of the other potential effects listed below.

    Physical symptoms

    • • A burning pain in the chest area, the back of the throat or throughout the oesophagus.
    • • Pain that wakes you up and keeps you from sleeping.
    • • A bitter, hot or unpleasant taste or fluid in the back of the throat or mouth.
    • • Feeling tired during the day due to night-time waking and pain.
    • • Feeling generally unwell or under the weather.

    Psychological effects

    • • Anxiety and preoccupation about setting off the burning pain again.
    • • Irritation or frustration over frequent pain and how it affects your life.
  • Not everyone has the same heartburn triggers. Some people find that spicy or acidic food brings on their heartburn, while others have alcohol or fizzy drinks as a trigger. Other possibilities are rich or fatty foods, like chocolate. And simply eating a large meal, or eating too late at night, can be a cause.

Heartburn Treatment

  • Antacids are heartburn treatments designed to give temporary relief from the pain of heartburn. They work by neutralising the stomach acid already produced, but don’t tackle acid production, so they may need to be taken repeatedly to maintain their effect.

  • There are several lifestyle choices, which can contribute to reducing heartburn symptoms.

    Reduce stress: Stress can contribute to heartburn.

    Exercise regularly: It will help you manage stress and keep you healthier overall. Exercising also helps you sleep better.

    Control portions: Decrease the size of portions at mealtimes.

    Stop smoking: Smoking relaxes the valve at the top of your stomach, allowing excess stomach acid to reflux into your esophagus.

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