5 things only people with heartburn will understand

July 21, 2022

If you suffer from heartburn, you’re far from being alone. One in five Australians report having reflux or heartburn regularly, here’s how you can help relieve the symptoms.

Reflux happens when stomach acid leaks back up into the oesophagus, which is the tube that carries your food from your mouth to your stomach.

You might occasionally experience that stomach acid as a sour taste that comes up into your mouth and, sometimes, this leaking stomach acid can cause a burning or uncomfortable sensation in the chest. That’s what we know as heartburn.

Heartburn and reflux help

Heartburn and reflux help

It can be a struggle for those with heartburn to try to avoid triggers that will set off symptoms, and to manage those symptoms if they arise at inconvenient times, such as at work or in social situations. Regular sufferers may also relate to the following things only they would understand:

  1. Heartburn doesn’t just burn. Despite its name, heartburn can cause other symptoms apart from that burning sensation in your oesophagus. The acid reflux can create a wave of destruction, irritating or damaging just about any surface it touches. As a result, those who suffer from heartburn may also report related symptoms such as sinusitis, coughing, asthma, bad breath, inflamed gums, eroding tooth enamel, and hoarseness in the throat.
  2. Spicy foods aren’t the only culprit. We often associate heartburn with eating spicy foods, but other things can also set off your heartburn, including citrus, tomato sauces, alcohol and vinegar. Fried and fatty foods can also cause trouble because they stay in your stomach for longer, giving your stomach acid more time and opportunity to leak up into your oesophagus. 
  3. It’s not only about food. It’s logical to think of foods being a trigger for that stomach acid causing you grief, but heartburn sufferers may also notice discomfort as a result of being overweight, smoking or breathing in second-hand smoke, taking some medications, having a hiatal hernia, or wearing tight clothing. While you may need to speak to a doctor about some of those causes, it could also be as easy as loosening your belt! If you need support to quit smoking, lose weight or review your medications, InstantScripts’ doctors can help. 
Heartburn and reflux help
  1. Peppermint is not your friend. Many of us think of peppermint as a soothing balm for an upset stomach, but it can wreak havoc if you have heartburn. This is because, although peppermint relaxes your stomach muscles, it also relaxes your lower esophageal sphincter – the ring of muscle between your stomach and your oesophagus. When that happens, stomach acid can more easily move up into your oesophagus and trigger your heartburn.
  2. Heartburn can feel like a heart attack. No, you’re not being dramatic, the chest pain of heartburn can be so severe that you may feel like you’re having a heart attack. If this sort of pain becomes regular, it’s important to speak to a doctor. But if you’re also suffering from nausea, sweating, weakness or trouble breathing – or if your chest pain feels like it’s squeezing and/or moving into your left shoulder, arm, jaw or back – please seek medical help straight away. 

To speak with an InstantScripts GP:

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To request a script:

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Heartburn and reflux help








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