What is heartburn?

The stomach contains hydrochloric acid and enzymes important for breaking down the food we eat.

Heartburn describes the symptoms when excessive amounts of this stomach acid move back up into the oesophagus. This is known as ‘reflux’.

It is usually a feeling of burning discomfort located behind the breastbone that moves up toward the neck and throat.

Some people even taste the bitter sour acid in the back of their throats. The burning and pressure symptoms can last for a few minutes or even a few hours. Generally, the symptoms are worse after eating food.

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What can you do to prevent heartburn?

In many cases, simple changes to your lifestyle can help to prevent heartburn:

  • Avoid foods and beverages that are known to contribute to heartburn, such as chocolate, coffee, peppermint, greasy and/or spicy foods, tomato products and alcoholic beverages
  • Stop smoking
  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Don’t overeat
  • Try to eat at least two to three hours before lying down
  • Avoid tight clothes and tight belts
  • Eat low-fat meals
  • Raise the head of your bed

What can you do to manage the symptoms of heartburn?

Antacids are some of the most commonly used medicines available without a prescription for treating heartburn. They provide rapid relief for mild or occasional symptoms.

Antacids, like Citro-Soda, work by partially neutralising gastric acid, thereby reducing the overall acidity in the stomach which helps to relieve heartburn.

If you have heartburn more than three times a week, for more than two weeks, you should see your doctor as you may have a more serious condition that could worsen if not treated.

Sources:

  • Ruiz AR. Stomach. MSD Manual Consumer Version msdmanuals.com
  • American Academy of Family Physicians www.aafp.org
  • Acid Reflux. American College of Gastroenterology Patient Education and Resource Center  patients.gi.org
  • Heartburn Treatment. Cleveland Clinic my.clevelandclinic.org
  • Mejia A, Kraft WK. Acid peptic diseases: pharmacological approach to treatment. Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2009;2(3):295-314.
  • Moshal MG, Naicker M. Antacid Properties of a Sodium Citrate Preparation. S Afr Med J. 1978;54:105-107.
  • Citro-Soda Approved Package Insert, July 2006.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.