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What is Indigestion and Heartburn?

Indigestion is the name used to describe pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen, usually experienced after meals. When the pain is felt behind the breast bone, it is commonly referred to as Heartburn.

What Causes Heartburn?

Heartburn is caused by acid moving from the stomach into the oesophagus. The acid is needed in order to digest food. The stomach lining is protected from this acid, whereas the oesophagus is not. The resultant pain is caused by the acid ‘burning’ the oesophagus. Heartburn is not caused by too much acid, but by the acid being in the wrong place. The valve at the top of the stomach should act as a barrier to prevent the acid from flowing into the oesophagus. When this valve does not work properly, the result can be Heartburn. Most Heartburn can be relieved by managing your eating habits or by the use of simple antacids. It is advisable to seek medical advice if you suffer from prolonged symptoms or pain.

How can I relieve Indigestion and Heartburn?

Whilst Indigestion and Heartburn can be painful and discomforting, there are a number of actions that you can take to help you relieve the pain.

  • Eat little and often - large meals can be the cause of pain and discomfort in themselves. They will also tend to provoke acid reflux and heartburn as the stomach can become ‘overfull’. Eating small amounts at regular intervals should help reduce this.

  • Avoid spicy foods - these can aggravate heartburn and should be particularly avoided near bedtime. Use of an effective antacid before going to bed will relieve the symptoms.

  • Smoking - this can relax the valve that prevents acid from leaving the stomach.

  • Record what you eat - by keeping a record of the foods you eat and drink, you will be able to monitor if any particular foods cause you to suffer from Indigestion and Heartburn more often. Tea, coffee and drinks containing alcohol can cause some people to suffer discomfort. Foods containing a high proportion of fat, such as cheeses, can also be the cause of the discomfort.

  • Lifestyle - the modern lifestyle, rushing from place to place, ‘catching’ a snack here and there, can also be the cause. If you suffer pain and discomfort whilst on the move - try stopping for a short while - take a break!.

  • Antacids - these can be used to obtain rapid relief from the pain of Indigestion or Heartburn. They are available in both tablet and liquid form and can be obtained from your Pharmacy.



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