Heartburn is a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat (acid reflux). If it keeps happening, it's called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
The main symptoms of acid reflux are:
You may also have:
Your symptoms will probably be worse after eating, when lying down and when bending over.
Lots of people get heartburn from time to time. There's often no obvious reason why.
Sometimes it's caused or made worse by:
Simple lifestyle changes can help stop or reduce heartburn.
eat smaller, more frequent meals
raise 1 end of your bed 10 to 20cm by putting something under your bed or mattress – your chest and head should be above the level of your waist, so stomach acid does not travel up towards your throat
try to lose weight if you're overweight
try to find ways to relax
do not have food or drink that triggers your symptoms
do not eat within 3 or 4 hours before bed
do not wear clothes that are tight around your waist
do not smoke
do not drink too much alcohol
do not stop taking any prescribed medicine without speaking to a doctor first
Speak to a pharmacist for advice if you keep getting heartburn.
They can recommend medicines called antacids that can help ease your symptoms.
It's best to take these with food or soon after eating, as this is when you're most likely to get heartburn. They may also work for longer if taken with food.
A GP can provide stronger treatments and help rule out any more serious causes of your symptoms.
A GP may prescribe a medicine called a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) that reduces how much acid your stomach makes. PPIs include:
You'll usually need to take this type of medicine for 4 or 8 weeks, depending on how serious your acid reflux is.
Go back to the GP if your symptoms return after stopping your medicine. You may need a long-term prescription.
If medicines do not help or your symptoms are severe, a GP may refer you to a specialist for:
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