Heartburn

Man suffering from heartburn after eating an orange.

What is heartburn?

Heartburn is a burning feeling rising from the stomach to the chest, most often felt behind the breastbone. Most Australians have experienced heartburn at some point in their life, however frequency and severity differ drastically from mild to very painful. Heartburn can limit the quality of life of sufferers, affecting their sleep and appetite. Anyone who fights heartburn regularly might also complain about a feeling of fullness, stomach ache and acid regurgitation. Burping and swallowing difficulties might also present themselves. As a result of the reflux of gastric contents, an acidic taste sometimes spreads in the mouth, which can also be described as salty or soapy and can even lead to bad breath. Heartburn can also be associated with an irritable cough and hoarseness.

In particular, when there are other gastrointestinal complaints as well, it could be possible that the movement processes or sensitivity of nerves in the gastrointestinal tract are disturbed. This is often what happens if you suffer from a functional disorder like IBS.

Smiling woman, holding red mug full of coffee.

What causes heartburn?

While this sensation is called heartburn, the pain is actually coming from the oesophagus which lies behind the heart and gives the condition its name. Gastric juice plays an important role in heartburn. It consists, among others, of hydrochloric acid and some digestive enzymes. After food is broken down by the teeth, the gastric juice begins to digest the food further and kill off germs and pathogens. Heartburn occurs when gastric acid travels up into the oesophagus and irritates the mucous membranes. So, the cause of heartburn is not always too much acid, but acid in the wrong place due to disturbed stomach motility or hypersensitive oesophageal nerves.

The good news is that you can do a lot to turn the tide. It is not always easy to change your habits, but it's worth a try, since it may help you feel better soon. What is first perceived as a restriction, could quickly turn out to be a gain. However, if you experience heartburn for more than a month the cause should be reviewed with your healthcare professional. They can determine whether it is a symptom of a functional gastrointestinal disorder (FGID) like irritable bowel syndrome or something completely different.

Other factors that affect heartburn

Patients with IBS often suffer from heartburn, which can be triggered by stress or improper diet. The triggers set different mechanisms in motion - often several at the same time - that ultimately cause the symptoms.

For example, unhealthy and high-fat foods can increase the production of gastric acid, while emotional stress or obesity could lead to stomach pressure. Smoking, alcohol and coffee have also been shown to promote heartburn.

These factors are among the most common triggers of heartburn. If you suffer from heartburn, below is a list of foods to try and avoid. These may or not may not be triggers for everyone. Its a good idea to seek the advice of a healthcare professional when starting specialised diets.

  • Coffee and black tea
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol (red wine and white wine)
  • Strongly flavoured food
  • Apple
  • Sweets (chocolate)
  • Citrus fruits
  • Nuts (except almonds!)
  • Fried foods (chips, crisps)
  • Pulses (beans, peas)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Onions

How can Iberogast® help?

While focusing on the triggers of your heartburn is a good management option, they cannot always be avoided. Every person is different, but some remedies have already proven their worth for many.

While most heartburn drugs neutralise gastric acid or reduce its production, Iberogast® takes a different approach. The herbal drops not only effectively relieve discomfort in the gastrointestinal area, they also target several factors that can cause heartburn in conjunction with other gastrointestinal complaints, like relaxing muscles in the upper part of the stomach and calming hypersensitive gastric nerves.

Tips

  • Support your digestive tract with food that’s easily digestible and stomach friendly. Such as foods with fibres and good fats.
  • Avoid foods that tend to give you a painful stomach and don’t eat too much, especially at dinner!
  • Avoid stress and integrate relaxed moments into your everyday life, such as herbal baths or short walks.
  • Try keeping active - light jogging, swimming or cycling can help normalise the gut.
A bottle of Iberogast on green background, surrounded by herbs

Iberogast® harnesses the power of herbs to relieve multiple functional digestive symptoms

Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.