When stomach acid backs up into your oesophagus, the tube connecting your mouth with your stomach, you feel a burning pain. A ‘trapdoor’ of muscular tissue called the lower oesophageal sphincter usually keeps stomach acid where it belongs. With heartburn, it allows acid to leak upwards, a problem known as reflux.

 

What Causes Heartburn?

You're more likely to have heartburn if you're pregnant, over-weight or a smoker, or if you have a condition called hiatus hernia. Some medications, including aspirin, certain antibiotics and some antidepressants and sedatives, may aggravate heartburn. Large meals as well as certain foods can lead to heartburn.


Constant heartburn

Occasional heartburn isn't serious. Recurrent heartburn could be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux, which can cause or contribute to conditions such as ulcers of the oesophagus and chronic cough.

See your doctor if you get heartburn 3 or 4 times a week for weeks on end, if you wheeze or become hoarse, find it difficult to swallow or lose weight rapidly. These could be signs of cancer, especially if you are over 40 years of age. The symptoms of severe heartburn can be mistaken for a heart attack. If they occur after a meal and are soothed by water or antacids, it's probably heartburn, but if you have a feeling of fullness, tightness or dull pressure or pain in the centre of your chest, shortness of breath or light-headedness and a cold sweat, dial 999.

To ease heart burn try some of our suggestions.

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