What causes heartburn?

Heartburn is the sensation that you feel when stomach acid rises up into your esophagus. There are many things that can cause it, including certain foods and drinks, overeating, bending over or lying down after a meal, pregnancy, and obesity.

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Foods and drinks that cause heartburn.

  • Chocolate
  • Oranges, grapefruits, limes, lemons, and other citrus fruits
  • Curry, cayenne pepper, and other spices
  • Jalapeños and other hot peppers
  • French fries, onion rings, and other fried and fatty foods
  • Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other full-fat dairy products
  • Pizza, salsa, and other foods made with tomatoes and tomato sauces
  • Beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages
  • Coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks
  • Carbonated beverages, including sodas
  • Tomato and citrus juices

What are the symptoms of heartburn?

Heartburn symptoms are unique for each person. Some people experience only one symptom, and others experience many. Common complaints include:

  • A burning feeling in the chest
  • A burning sensation that moves up into the neck and throat
  • A bitter or sour taste in the back of the throat
  • Uncomfortable pressure
  • Acid indigestion

Learn more about gas pressure relief

When to see your doctor.

If you experience heartburn now and then, it's a good idea to mention it to your doctor. If symptoms are frequent or severe, affect your everyday life, occur consistently after taking a prescription or over-the-counter medication, or last longer than 14 days if you take a PPI acid reducer like Prilosec OTC®, it's very important that you see a physician as soon as possible. You may have GERD or another condition that may require immediate attention.

What is GERD?

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

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

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