Heartburn is a common condition that is often diet-related, and can impact quality of life. This article is your guide to the most common causes, signs, relief and prevention of heartburn.

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).

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. Another sign of heartburn is a bitter or sour taste in the back of the throat.

What causes heartburn?

Heartburn symptoms are usually related to diet, although a small proportion of people may experience symptoms irrespective of what they eat.

The Way You Eat

Avoid the following when eating:

  • Eating large meals and overfilling your stomach
  • Eating too quickly
  • Eating just before bedtime.

Foods and drinks that may trigger heartburn

  • Fatty and salty foods
  • Chocolate and mint (such a spearmint or peppermint)
  • Caffeinated or carbonated beverages
  • Citrus fruits or juices
  • Spicy foods, garlic, onions and tomatoes
  • Alcohol.

What helps relieve heartburn?

  • Taking time to de-stress, as stress can make heartburn symptoms feel worse
  • Avoid lying down after eating and avoid eating or drinking for 2–3 hours before bedtime
  • Weight loss can help improve heartburn symptoms if you are overweight
  • Try to stop smoking, as smoking is an identified risk factor for heartburn
  • Try Gaviscon Dual Action Liquid. It provides relief from the pain and discomfort of heartburn and starts to soothe from just four minutes.* Gaviscon is available in major retailers and pharmacies in New Zealand including Countdown, Chemist Warehouse and Pharmacy Direct.

*Strugala V, et al. 2010 (Sponsored by RB).

Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.


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