Heartburn and Indigestion.

The feeling of heartburn can be described as a burning pain or discomfort, usually rising from the stomach or upper abdomen and moving upwards towards the neck or throat. People with heartburn may also experience a sensation of food or acid coming back into their throat, which may be accompanied by a bitter or acid taste.

Heartburn symptoms may occur if your stomach produces too much acid in the digestion process. When this happens, stomach acid can move up into the oesophagus (the tube that connects your throat to your stomach), causing discomfort or pain.

Indigestion is a feeling of pain or discomfort, often localised in the upper abdomen and is commonly associated with eating or drinking.

  • Common symptoms of indigestion and heartburn:
    Common symptoms of indigestion Common symptoms of heartburn
    Pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen A burning feeling in the chest rising upwards towards the throat
    Feeling bloated A sour or bitter taste in the mouth
    Wind and belching Acid reflux
    Feeling full soon after eating Bad breath
    Feeling full even if you haven’t eaten much A dry cough
    Nausea and possibly vomiting Persistent sore throat

    Heartburn and indigestion can cause difficulty sleeping if the symptoms occur at night.

    If you experience these symptoms more than once per week, you should see your doctor to discuss what treatment options are right for you.

    Sometimes, heartburn symptoms such as chest pain, may feel like a heart attack. If you have any concerns or are unsure about where the pain is coming from, please seek emergency medical advice immediately.

  • Common causes of indigestion and heartburn:

    The causes of heartburn and indigestion are most often linked to lifestyle factors, such as eating and drinking.  Eating too quickly, or eating too much can cause symptoms to occur.  Certain types of foods can cause symptoms to occur, such as:

    • Coffee
    • Soft drinks
    • Fruit juice
    • Spicy food
    • Fatty and fried foods
    • Sweet foods
    • Chocolate
    • Alcohol

    Symptoms of heartburn are often made worse by lying down, bending forward or straining. Smoking, being overweight and some medicines can also increase your chance of getting heartburn or indigestion.

  • Tips to help you manage heartburn:

    Some simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference to how often you get heartburn and how severe it feels. 

    • Eat small regular meals
    • Avoid foods you know cause problems
    • Cut down on coffee and alcohol
    • Avoid tight fitting clothing around your waist
    • Avoid eating large meals at night
    • Don't smoke
    • Maintain a healthy weight
    • Exercise regularly
References 1. Hague et al. Prevalence, severity and associated features of gastro-oesophageal reflux and dyspepsia: a population based study. NZ Med J 2000; 113:178-81. 2. Pappa KA, Gooch WM, et al 'Low Dose Ranitidine for relief of heartburn'. Ailment Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Apr: 13(4) 459-65. Medicines have benefits and some may have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional. Do not use Zantac® if you are allergic to ranitidine; if you are pregnant or breastfeeding unless on advice of your doctor; you have recently experienced unintended weight loss; you have black stools; or under 12 years of age unless directed to do so by your doctor. Distributed by Aspen Pharmacare c/- Healthcare Logistics, Auckland. TAPS PP4541