Heartburn and acid reflux
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).
Check if you have acid reflux
The main symptoms of acid reflux are:
- heartburn – a burning sensation in the middle of your chest
- an unpleasant sour taste in your mouth, caused by stomach acid
You may also have:
- a cough or hiccups that keep coming back
- a hoarse voice
- bad breath
- bloating and feeling sick
Your symptoms will probably be worse after eating, when lying down and when bending over.
Causes of heartburn and acid reflux
Lots of people get heartburn from time to time. There’s often no obvious reason why.
Sometimes it’s caused or made worse by:
- certain food and drink – such as coffee, tomatoes, alcohol, chocolate and fatty or spicy foods
- being overweight
- stress and anxiety
- some medicines, such as anti-inflammatory painkillers (like ibuprofen)
- when part of your stomach moves up into your chest
How you can ease heartburn and acid reflux yourself
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