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Symptoms of Heartburn and Indigestion

written by: Julia Bodeeb • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 8/31/2009

Heartburn and indigestion are common ailments that may strike after consuming a rich meal. Heartburn and indigestion may mean it is time to change eating habits and adopt a healthier lifestyle.

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    Heartburn symptoms include searing night-time chest pain that may also move up to the throat or neck, a sour taste in the mouth, pain that becomes worse upon reclining, and nausea.

    Heartburn occurs when stomach acid leaks out into the esophagus and causes irritation and pain. Heartburn may be a rare occurrence or may occur regularly. Frequent heartburn may be GERD (gastroesophageal reflex disease).

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    Causes and Treatment of Heartburn

    Heartburn incidence may be linked to: smoking, fatty food, excessive food intake, soda, chocolate, drinking alcohol, and obesity. Pregnancy may also increase the incidence of heartburn.

    Rarely, a hiatal hernia may be a cause of heartburn. This type of hernia may be a physical defect that is present at birth.

    To treat heartburn, add yogurt to the diet, limit alcohol intake, avoid large meals when feeling very stressed, eat the last meal of the day at least 2-3 hours before sleep, maintain a healthy weight, avoid spicy foods, stop smoking, avoid full-fat dairy products, avoid tomatoes and other acidic foods, and add more exercise to the day, especially after the dinner meal.

    Antacid tablets may also be helpful in treating heartburn. Speak to your doctor to get advice about how to use this product and if any other medical treatment is needed for heartburn.

    Also, work to reduce stress. Activities such as meditation, yoga, and walking may help lessen stress and calm the body and mind. Any kind of exercise is good for overall health. Exercise also helps to move food along through the digestive system and may limit the reflux of acid into the esophagus.

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    Symptoms and Prevention of Heartburn and Indigestion

    Sometimes heartburn may be confused with the symptoms of a heart attack. If there is a feeling of pressure on the chest or of crushing pain in the chest area call 911 immediately. If vomiting occurs with blood in the vomit that is another sign 911 must be called immediately. Do not wait until morning or until the pain goes away if the symptoms are severe. Call 911 and get medical attention immediately.

    Indigestion is often referred to as dyspepsia. This disorder involves pain and burning in the upper chest, bloating, gas, and nausea. Indigestion may be linked to fast food, alcohol, anxiety, lack of sleep, stress, spicy foods, smoking, excess air in the stomach

    To prevent indigestion, reduce stress, eat meals slowly and have small meals. Also avoid foods with high levels of acid like citrus. Sleep with the head raised at least five inches and do no eat in the last few hours before bedtime. Avoid consuming beverages with the meal and limit the amount of alcohol consumed.

    Talk to your doctor if indigestion is an ongoing problem. Ask she or he about advice to limit episodes of indigestion. Also work to maintain a healthy weight. Exercise regularly and eat foods that are natural and focus on grains, vegetables, and fruits. Avoid high fat meals.

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    Treatment of Indigestion

    Use antacids as needed. Keep a log of incidence of indigestion to present to doctor at the next checkup. List which foods were eaten before the indigestion occurred to help track problematic foods so they can be limited.

    Work to eat meals smaller meals that do not stress the digestive system. Avoid harsh citrus foods and overly spicy meals to help the stomach handle meals better. Ask the doctor if there are ways to limit indigestion and heartburn.

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