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Heartburn is a painful burning sensation in the chest caused by acid reflux. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid travels from the stomach to the throat.
In addition, you may experience a bitter or sour taste in the mouth, a persistent cough or hiccups, smelly breath, bloating or feeling sick (nausea). Acid reflux can also affect your voice, making it sound more hoarse.
Heartburn is very common. It can be caused by a number of things, including:
Some people find certain types of food can cause or trigger the symptoms of heartburn.
Foods that commonly cause acid reflux and heartburn include:
You may be able to treat the symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn by avoiding these foods.
If you suspect a food that is not listed here might be causing your symptoms, try cutting it out of your diet and see if you notice an improvement.
A doctor may advise taking antacids for heartburn. Antacids are a type of medication available at pharmacies that can help treat the symptoms of heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux. Speak to your pharmacist or doctor for further guidance on whether to use these medications and how to get and use them.
To get the full benefit of an antacid, take it alongside a meal, straight after eating, or just before going to bed as this is usually when heartburn occurs.
Antacids can provide fast relief, but they are more of a temporary solution to heartburn. This is because they do not treat the underlying cause of heartburn and their side effects can become more severe with regular use.
For longer-term relief from heartburn, you may want to make some changes to your lifestyle. This approach can offer more sustainable results and may be preferable if you are interested in treating heartburn naturally, without the help of medication.
You can improve heartburn symptoms or get rid of it completely by making a few small changes to your lifestyle. Lifestyle changes you might want to try include:
If you suspect a medication you are already taking may be causing your symptoms, do not stop taking that medication unless you have consulted your doctor first.
While heartburn is not usually serious, there are some instances where seeing a doctor may be beneficial.
It is important to book an appointment with your doctor if:
A doctor may advise taking stronger medication that is stronger than non-prescription varieties, like omeprazole or lansoprazole. Speak to your pharmacist or doctor for further guidance on whether to use these medications and how to get and use them.
Your doctor can also help determine if there is an underlying condition that is causing the symptoms of heartburn. Treating the underlying condition may help improve your heartburn symptoms.
You will not usually need to see a doctor to treat the symptoms of heartburn. For fast relief, a doctor may advise you take medication. To treat your symptoms in the long-term, there are a number of self-help methods you can try, like avoiding alcohol or making changes to your diet.
If you don’t find this approach helpful after three or more weeks, visit your doctor. They can check if you have an underlying condition and may advise you take stronger prescription medication.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.