Chillies representing burning sensation from heartburn

Heartburn: Causes & Symptoms

What is heartburn?
What are the symptoms of heartburn?
What causes heartburn?

What is heartburn?

Heartburn is the name given to the burning feeling or heat that begins in your chest and rises upwards to the throat. It usually comes in waves and is in response to stomach acid rising up through a valve from the stomach into the oesophagus (food pipe). In most cases, the burning sensation or pain is due to stomach acid irritating the unprotected oesophagus.

Heartburn usually happens after meals, when you go to bed or during the night, and can last for several hours or more. Many people suffer sleepless nights as a result of heartburn because the lying down position can contribute to the condition and increase the pain.

Heartburn is one of the most common symptoms of GORD - Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disease. It might sound scary, but in most cases GORD is not a serious condition and is experienced by one in ten people every day. However, persistent episodes can damage the lining of the oesophagus, so have a chat with your GP or pharmacist if you’re at all concerned.

Working on laptop and mobile phone with coffee

Heartburn can be more common during pregnancy as the body changes hormonally and physically. To find out more about Rennie and pregnancy, visit our heartburn during pregnancy page.

What are the symptoms of heartburn?

The symptoms of heartburn can be described in lots of ways.

  • A burning sensation in your chest or throat after eating
  • A hot sour or salty tasting fluid in the back of your throat and difficulty swallowing
  • Pressure behind the breastbone
  • Feeling bloated
  • Needing to burp
  • Feeling sick

It feels like my insides are on fire.

What causes heartburn?

Heartburn is very common. In most cases, it is caused by acid reflux, which is when the ring of muscle or valve (called the sphincter muscle) at the entrance to your stomach doesn’t close tightly, or relaxes too often, allowing acid from the stomach to travel out and up the oesophagus (food pipe).

Hot red chillies covered in water droplets
  • Certain foods can increase the likelihood of heartburn for different reasons. Fried or greasy foods, high fat meats and whole milk dairy products can cause the valve to relax. Caffeinated drinks, coffee, alcohol and spicy foods can all stimulate excess acid production and increase the likelihood of heartburn.
  • Some people find they experience heartburn when they are stressed.
  • Being overweight means you can be more likely to suffer from heartburn because of increased pressure on your stomach, which can force open the valve after a meal. Even tight clothing can do this.
  • Are you suffering from heartburn? Read some treatment tips to help relieve the symptoms of heartburn
  • Breakfasts on the go: simple and healthy recipes and ideas
  • Is there a difference between acid reflux and indigestion?
  • Tips to combat stress
  • Heartburn triggers
Three healthy breakfast juices made with fruit and vegetables

Breakfasts on the go: simple and healthy recipes and ideas

Breakfast is widely regarded as the most important meal of the day - but many of us skip it because we'd rather push the snooze button and have an extra five minutes in bed.

However, just because your morning routine is more rushed than relaxed, doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy breakfast.

Rennie Peppermint takes a look at the best breakfasts you can prepare in a flash and grab as you run out the door to catch your bus…

Read More
Woman holding painful chest in reaction heartburn

Is there a difference between acid reflux and indigestion?

Quite often, the terms acid reflux and indigestion are used interchangeably without fully understanding the differences between the two.

There are in fact a number of differences between the two as indigestion is not, as many believe, just a milder form of acid reflux.

Rennie have taken the time to look into the two issues, and have put together this guide to allow you to understand the differences for yourself.

Read More
Young couple walking together in the sun

Tips to combat stress

Stress can be a major contributor to heartburn or indigestion – which is all the more reason to adopt healthy ways of dealing with stress.

Thankfully, finding new ways to cope and relax doesn’t have to involve spending large amounts of time or money, there are plenty of things you can start doing today to relieve the stress in your life.

Rennie takes a look at some of the best things you can do to ease the tension…

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Chillie spice, powder and dried chillies on table

Heartburn triggers

Heartburn is an extremely uncomfortable experience that affects thousands of people across Ireland on a daily basis.

Also known as acid reflux, heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest that occurs as a result of stomach acid rising up into the oesophagus.

Heartburn symptoms can also range from burning in the chest to a sour acidic taste in the back of throat and is often triggered by foods many of us eat on a daily basis.

Read more