Heartburn is a common condition that feels like a burning sensation in your chest or throat. It is common in pregnant women and people who are overweight. Heartburn can be treated with over-the-counter antacids. Frequent heartburn can be a symptom of acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), a more serious condition.

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What causes heartburn?

Heartburn is caused when stomach acid goes up your esophagus (the pipe connecting your throat and stomach). It can be brought on by what you eat and may worsen when you lie down or bend over. Large meals and pressure on the stomach can also lead to heartburn.

What are heartburn symptoms?

Heartburn can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of heartburn typically occur after eating and can include:

  • Sharp pain, burning or tightening sensation
  • Pain behind the breastbone
  • Burning in your throat
  • Sour or bitter taste in your mouth
  • Pain that worsens when lying down or bending over

Heartburn is sometimes mistaken for a heart attack, but typical heart attack symptoms include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort (pressure, tightness or squeezing sensation)
  • Pain or discomfort that moves to arms, back, neck or jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or abdominal pain
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Fatigue

Call 911 if you or someone else is showing any signs of a heart attack.

How is heartburn treated?

Heartburn can be treated with over-the-counter antacids and lifestyle changes. Do not leave heartburn untreated because it can damage your esophagus.

Foods that can set off heartburn include:

  • Spicy foods
  • Fatty or fried foods
  • Onions
  • Citrus fruit
  • Chocolate
  • Tomato products
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Mint

Lifestyle changes to treat heartburn include:

  • Avoid foods, drinks and medicines that trigger symptoms
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently
  • Do not lie down after eating
  • Avoid eating close to bedtime
  • Lose weight if needed
  • Stop smoking

Occasional heartburn is not a serious concern. However, frequent heartburn can indicate GERD and should be treated medically.

If antacids don’t soothe your heartburn symptoms, visit your nearest CareNow® urgent care clinic for diagnosis and treatment.

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