Heartburn can last for a few minutes or for a few hours and can be annoying and painful. Other heartburn symptoms are:
Heartburn is a common condition, sometimes accompanied by indigestion, that usually occurs after eating – especially overeating or late-night eating.
Heartburn symptoms can also occur at night when you’re lying in your bed, as it’s easier for stomach acid to seep into your oesophagus.
In most cases, heartburn can be relieved by taking a heartburn remedy and making lifestyle changes.
Heartburn symptoms caused by acid reflux can be triggered by certain foods and drinks, including:
You’re more likely to suffer from heartburn symptoms if you’re:
Certain medicines can also cause heartburn including anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, and aspirin. Stomach ulcers can also cause heartburn.
If you’re having two bouts of heartburn a week, you should make an appointment with your GP.
Your GP will discuss your heartburn symptoms with you and may refer you for tests. These tests may include:
The results will help your GP exclude or diagnose any possible conditions and provide you with treatment you may need. They may also refer you to a gastroenterologist, a consultant specialising in the digestive system.
Seek medical attention immediately if you have very painful heartburn accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
Most heartburn symptoms can be relieved with lifestyle changes, medication and, in rare cases, surgery.
To help relieve and prevent heartburn and heartburn symptoms, you should:
Your GP or consultant may prescribe medication to reduce the amount of acid produced in your stomach. Alternatively, your GP might prescribe a heartburn remedy, such as an antacid. Antacids are also available as over-the-counter treatments.
If lifestyle changes and medication fail to relieve your heartburn, your GP or consultant might suggest a procedure called a gastroscopy to look inside your oesophagus. However, this procedure will usually only be considered if you have gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
If you are suffering from painful gallstones or gallbladder disease, your GP may recommend gallbladder removal surgery.