Heartburn causes & symptoms
What is heartburn
Heartburn (also known as reflux) is caused by the contents of the stomach, including acid, rising from the stomach back up into the oesophagus (food pipe).2
What does heartburn feel like?
Symptoms of heartburn are typically described as a burning sensation in the back of the throat and chest area, usually behind the breastbone.2,3 A bitter or sour taste in the back of the throat is sometimes associated with heartburn/can be another symptom of heartburn.3
What causes heartburn?
Heartburn symptoms are usually related to diet, although a small proportion of people may experience symptoms irrespective of what they eat.1
The Way You Eat
Avoid the following when eating:4
- Eating large meals and overfilling your stomach
- Eating too quickly
- Eating just before bedtime.
Foods and drinks that may trigger heartburn4
- Fatty and salty foods
- Chocolate and mint (such as spearmint or peppermint)
- Caffeinated or carbonated beverages
- Citrus fruits or juices
- Spicy foods, garlic, onions and tomatoes
Making changes to your diet can help.1
- Eat a balanced diet – fatty foods may take longer to break down in the stomach, therefore eating too much of this may trigger heartburn.5
- Enjoy a fibre-rich diet – this may help reduce the risk of heartburn.4
- Avoid foods that trigger your heartburn – this may include spicy foods, mint, chocolate, or alcohol.4,5
- Don’t add extra salt to highly-salted food – for example, when you are eating salted fish or meat.4
Other changes to your lifestyle may also help to prevent heartburn. For example, avoiding bending or lifting, particularly after eating as this can increase pressure on your stomach. Raising the head of your bed may also help prevent heartburn from occurring while you’re sleeping.2