Heartburn…Simple steps for prevention and relief

It’s thought that 1 in 5* people will get at least one episode of heartburn a week, while 1 in 10 experience the symptoms on a daily basis*. Heartburn is a common digestive condition that causes burning chest pain or discomfort when stomach acid leaks in to the oesophagus. Most of us experience occasional episodes of heartburn, but if your symptoms are persistent you’ll need the condition to be treated. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help you avoid it or treat the pain if you do get it. * NHS Choices

Common symptoms of heartburn
  • Discomfort after eating
  • Burning chest pain
  • Sour taste in the mouth, caused by stomach acid coming back up into the mouth
  • Pain and difficulty swallowing
Less common side effects of heartburn
  • Persistent cough
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling sick
  • Wheezing
  • Laryngitis (sore throat and hoarseness)
You’re more likely to experience heartburn if…
  • You’re overweight or obese
  • You’re pregnant
  • You eat a high-fat diet
  • You smoke, drink alcohol or coffee, or eat chocolate
  • You have a hiatus hernia
  • You’re stressed
A few simple lifestyle changes could cut your chances of getting heartburn
  • If you’re overweight, losing weight may help your symptoms because it will reduce pressure on your stomach
  • If you’re a smoker, think about quitting. Smoking can irritate your digestive system and make symptoms of heartburn worse
  • Eat smaller, frequent meals rather than three large meals a day
  • Eat your evening meal three to four hours before you go to bed
  • Be aware of, and try to avoid, the triggers that make your heartburn worse, such as alcohol, coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, fatty or spicy food
Treatments to control and relieve your heartburn

There are a number of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines you can take to control your heartburn, as well as medicines that can help relieve the symptoms of mild-to-moderate heartburn, including:

  • Antacids - medicines that neutralise the effects of stomach acid. Antacids shouldn’t be taken at the same time as other medicines because they can stop them from being absorbed into your body. They can also damage the special coating on some types of tablets, so ask your GP or pharmacist for more advice.
  • Alginates - an alternative type of medicine to antacids. They work by producing a protective coating that protects the lining of your stomach and oesophagus.
For more information about the best treatments for you just ask your pharmacy team at your Local LloydsPharmacy.