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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
A feeling of pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen A burning feeling in the upper abdomen 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  

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

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 or what is causing this pain, please seek emergency medical advice immediately.

Common causes of indigestion and heartburn

Causes of heartburn and indigestion are most often linked to lifestyle factors.

  • Spicy and rich foods
  • Fried or fatty foods
  • Sweet foods
  • Over-eating
  • Eating too quickly
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight

Other causes of heartburn and indigestion may be linked to medical conditions. If you are concerned about the cause of your heartburn, see your doctor for advice.

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
  • Cut down on coffee and alcohol
  • Avoid eating large meals at night
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid foods you know cause problems
  • Avoid tight fitting clothing around your waist
  • Don't smoke
  • Exercise regularly