What is heartburn?

Heartburn is a common condition that affects more than 15 million Americans every day.1 In fact, almost all adults experience it at one time or another. You may have had it also after eating a big meal or spicy foods.

Heartburn feels like a burning sensation in your chest area — from behind your breastbone all the way up to your throat. It's uncomfortable, but treatable. Technically, heartburn happens when stomach acid occasionally rises into your esophagus and causes irritation. Though it's called heartburn, it actually has nothing to do with your heart.

What are other causes and symptoms of heartburn?

There are different types of heartburn, including occasional and frequent. Occasional heartburn happens less than twice a week and frequent heartburn happens two or more times a week. Symptoms for either type can occur during the day, or at night - especially around bedtime.

Many frequent heartburn sufferers take a 24-hour medication called a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) acid reducer that's designed to reduce stomach acid production and provide long-lasting relief. Sometimes, people who take PPI acid reducers experience breakthrough heartburn — heartburn or acid indigestion that flares up before it's time to take another dose of their PPI medication. When this happens, a rescue treatment may be necessary. Gelusil® is the #1 rescue treatment for immediate heartburn relief* that's safe to use between doses of PPI acid reducers like Nexium®, Prevacid®, and Prilosec OTC®. And it's strong enough for occasional heartburn, too.

Learn more about breakthrough heartburn

Heartburn Relief Options

Because there are all types of heartburn, there are all types of relief, including:

  • Multi-symptom antacid/anti-gas: Gelusil® immediately helps relieve heartburn, acid indigestion, bloating, and gas. Gelusil® also treats breakthrough heartburn when symptoms flare up between doses of 24-hour medications.
  • Calcium antacids: Calcium carbonate-based antacids, such as Tums®, Rolaids®, and Maalox® tablets, neutralize stomach acid but may contribute to acid rebound — when acid symptoms come back worse when a medication is stopped2 or wears off.
  • 24-hour medications: Also known as PPI acid reducers, Nexium®, Prevacid®, Prilosec® OTC®, AcipHex®, Protonix®, Zegerid OTC®, and other brands are designed to control symptoms long term by stopping nearly all stomach acid production. Occasionally, heartburn or acid indigestion flares up between doses.3
  • H2 blockers: Pepcid AC®, Tagamet®, and Zantac® reduce stomach acid production. Breakthrough heartburn may occur periodically.

What is GERD?

If you experience frequent heartburn that occurs more than two times a week, have trouble swallowing and feel like food is getting stuck, see your doctor for a diagnosis. You might have GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease), a medical condition that happens when stomach acid regularly leaks back up into the esophagus, causing inflammation. If left untreated, GERD can cause serious long-term health risks.

Often, GERD is treated with 24-hour medications like Nexium® or Prevacid®, or with H2 blockers like Tagamet® or Zantac®. Even with these drugs, heartburn and acid indigestion occasionally flare up between doses. Gelusil® treats breakthrough heartburn symptoms by providing immediate relief.

Learn more about Acid Reducers and Gelusil®

Heartburn and acid indigestion relief.

With a unique combination formula, Gelusil® treats multiple symptoms: heartburn, acid indigestion, bloating, and gas.

Learn more

What is breakthrough heartburn?

If you take a 24-hour heartburn medication and symptoms sometimes come back before it's time to take your next dose, you may have breakthrough heartburn. Gelusil® can help.

Learn more

  1. American College of Gastroenterology. Is it just a little heartburn or something more serious? http://s3.gi.org/patients/pdfs/UnderstandGERD.pdf. Accessed May 20, 2013.
  2. Mosby's Medical Dictionary. 8th ed. Maryland Heights, MO. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2009.
  3. Jacobson BC, Ferris TG, Shea TL, Mahlis EM, Lee TH, Wang TC. Who is using chronic acid suppression therapy and why? Am J Gastroenterol. 2003;98(1):51-58.

(Other sources of information used to write this section include:)

American College of Gastroenterology. Acid Reflux. http://patients.gi.org/topics/acid-reflux/. Accessed May 20, 2013.

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. Fact sheet: Heartburn and GERD. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0048152/. Published July 19, 2012. Updated September 13, 2012. Accessed May 20, 2013.

MedlinePlus. Heartburn. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003114.htm. Updated January 31, 2011. Accessed May 20, 2013.

American College of Gastroenterology. Is it just a little heartburn or something more serious? http://s3.gi.org/patients/pdfs/UnderstandGERD.pdf. Accessed May 20, 2013.

American College of Gastroenterology. Digestive Health Tips: 10 Tips on Belching, Bloating, and Flatulence. http://patients.gi.org/topics/digestive-health-tips/. Accessed May 20, 2013.

† Stop use and ask a doctor if symptoms last more than 2 weeks.

Nexium®, Prilosec OTC®, Prevacid®, Tums®, AcipHex®, Protonix®, Zegerid OTC®, Rolaids®, Maalox®, Pepcid® AC®, Tagamet®, and Zantac® registered trademarks are property of their respective owners.