Heartburn is most commonly brought about by gastric acid rising into the oesophagus, giving a burning sensation that can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful.
In spite of its name heartburn has nothing to do with the heart; its name comes from the fact that the burning sensation normally occurs behind the breastbone where the heart is located.
It is a very common condition and can be brought about by eating certain foods. The most common causes of heartburn are caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea and soft drinks), chocolate, fried foods, alcohol, tobacco and some tomato-based products.
Large meals can also bring on heartburn, because the size of the meal puts pressure on the lower oesophagus.
The good news is that there are several quality treatment options for dealing with heartburn, and some of them are effective straight away.
Antacids are the most common treatment and can be bought over the counter at the chemist. These operate by neutralising stomach acid, so if it does splash into your oesophagus it won’t hurt.
You can use sodium bicarbonate solution as a treatment too, but don’t do this very often because it can lead to high levels of sodium in your blood.
Perhaps the most important thing with heartburn is to act preventatively. This means eating smaller meals, and eating the right types of food.
If you constantly suffer heartburn you may need to completely cut some food and drink types out of your diet.
Speak to your doctor if you cannot work out what to cut.