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  • Gillian Lewis

Heartburn (Acid reflux)


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One of the most frequent complaints that I see with my clients is heartburn. Heartburn is a burning pain deep in the chest. It is not ‘heart pain’ but is called heartburn because the pain often feels like it is near the heart. It is also known as Acid Reflux.


What is heartburn?

Heartburn (acid reflux) is caused by stomach acid leaking out of the stomach and into the oesophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach). The pain and discomfort usually occurs several hours after eating and is worse if lying down.


If I get heartburn what should I do?

There are several products available in pharmacies that will help reduce stomach acid and resolve heartburn. However, these products can be expensive and they are not designed for long term use. The cheapest option, and one that may already be in your kitchen cupboard, is Bi-carbonate Soda.

I recommend mixing ½ a teaspoon of Bi-carb Soda in a 200ml glass of water, drink immediately. If the pain persists repeat in 30 minutes. This will reduce stomach acid and provide relief. It is also safe to take during pregnancy.

Sitting up will also help provide relief. Heartburn gets worse when you lie down as it is easier for the acid to leak out of the stomach and back into the oesophagus.

Do not try to fix the pain of heartburn by drinking milk or eating yoghurt. Dairy products will make you feel better for a short time, but dairy products will actually increase stomach acid and after a few hours the pain will come back.

If you only get heartburn occasionally, perhaps after a big night out or a large celebration dinner, then treating the symptoms is probably sufficient.

If you get heartburn regularly then you may be in danger of doing long term damage to your oesophagus. You should consider taking steps to remove the causes from your diet and lifestyle.


Diet and lifestyle changes that can reduce the symptoms of heartburn

  • Eat smaller meals, especially at dinner time

  • Stop eating 3-4 hours before going to bed

  • Reduce spicy foods

  • Reduce alcohol consumption

  • Stop smoking

  • Wear loose clothing

  • Reduce stress

What if heartburn is only one of my digestive problems?

Heartburn is only one of a large range of symptoms that can indicate significant digestive problems. Other symptoms include – abdominal pain, bloating, excessive burping or hiccupping, gas, nausea, acidic/sour taste in mouth, stomach discomfort, constipation or diarrhoea and decreased appetite.


If you have multiple digestive symptoms it is a good idea to visit a nutritionist or other health care professional to discuss what steps you can take to improve your digestive health.

Email gillian@retreatvanuatu.com or call 555 7684 for an appointment.

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