Causes and Treatments of Heartburn

Heartburn is a burning pain in your chest that emanates just behind your breastbone. Heartburn pains usually worsens after eating, when bending over, when lying down, or in the evening.

To experience heartburn occasionally is common, most people are able to manage the pain on their own with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications.

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However, if heartburn becomes more frequent such that it affects your daily routine, it may be a pointer of a more severe health condition.

Symptoms of Heartburn

Symptoms of heartburn include:

  • Pain that deteriorates when lying down or bending over
  • Bitter or acidic taste in the mouth
  • A burning pain in the chest that usually occurs after eating

Causes of Heartburn

When stomach acid backs up into the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach, it causes heartburn. When you swallow, a group of muscle around the bottom of your esophagus eases to allow food and liquid to flow down into your stomach. Then the muscle constricts again. If the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes irregularly or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus causing heartburn. The acid reflux may deteriorate when you’re bent over or lying down.

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Risk factors

Heartburn can be triggered by certain foods and drinks in some people. These foods includes:

  • Onions
  • Citrus products
  • Peppermint
  • Spicy foods
  • Chocolate
  • Tomato products, such as ketchup
  • Fatty or fried foods
  • Alcohol, carbonated beverages, coffee or other caffeinated beverages
  • Large or fatty meals


Heartburn that occurs frequently and impedes your activities is considered gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD treatment may require prescription medications and, occasionally, surgery or other procedures.

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When to see a doctor

If you experience severe chest pain or pressure, especially when combined with other signs and symptoms such as pain in the arm or jaw or difficulty breathing, see a doctor immediately.

Endeavour to see your doctor if:

  • Heartburn occurs more than twice a week
  • Symptoms continue even after use of over-the-counter medications
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Weight loss due to poor appetite


To determine if your heartburn is a symptom of GERD, your doctor may recommend:

  • X-ray: This is to view the condition of your esophagus and stomach.
  • Endoscopy: This examines your esophagus for abnormalities in your esophagus. A tissue sample (biopsy) may be taken for analysis.
  • Ambulatory acid probe tests: This test is to identify when, and for how long, stomach acid backs up into your esophagus. An acid monitor that is placed in your esophagus join to a small computer that you wear around your waist or on a strap over your shoulder.
  • Esophageal motility testing: This measures movement and pressure in your esophagus.

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Treatment for Heartburn

Heartburn can be treated with many over-the-counter medications such as:

  • Antacids: This helps to offset stomach acid. Antacids may provide quick relief, but they can’t heal an esophagus that has been damaged by stomach acid.
  • H-2-receptor antagonists (H2RAs): Thiswhich can reduce stomach acid and may provide longer relief.
  • Proton pump inhibitors:such as lansoprazole (Prevacid 24HR) and omeprazole (Nexium 24HR, Prilosec OTC), which also can reduce stomach acid.

Ensure you consult your doctor if symptoms persists after taking over-the-counter treatments.

Source: Mayoclinic

Disclaimer: The content provided on is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.

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