Frequent heartburn: Causes, triggers and impact on quality of life

Man with heartburn

Understanding heartburn

Heartburn may be occasional or frequent (occurring at least 2 times a week).1

In this section we review the causes and triggers of heartburn, as well as the impact frequent heartburn can have on your patients’ quality of life.

Explore educational resources here

Image of stomach showing cause of heartburn

Causes of heartburn

Stomach acid is normally blocked from entering the oesophagus by the lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS). The LOS opens to let food pass from the oesophagus into the stomach and remains closed between meals.

In certain people, particularly as they age, the LOS does not close tightly, allowing the passage of stomach acid into the oesophagus. This causes the pain and discomfort of heartburn.

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Triggers for heartburn

Heartburn may be made worse by the following things:2

  • Certain food and drink such as coffee, tomatoes, alcohol, chocolate and fatty or spicy foods
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Some medications including anti-inflammatory painkillers
  • A hiatus hernia (when part of your stomach moves up into your chest)

The impact of frequent heartburn on quality of life

Quality of life impacts of heartburn

Regardless of severity, frequent heartburn causes significant disruption to people’s lives.

The top activities affected by frequent heartburn are:3

  • Ability to eat and drink what people want
  • Sleeping/lying down
  • Ability to concentrate
  • Ability to work, socialise and lead a normal life

Frequent heartburn sufferers report feeling:3

  • Irritable
  • Frustrated
  • Embarrassed
  • Sick
  • Resigned

3 out of 4 frequent heartburn sufferers report that heartburn interferes with their sleep, negatively impacting mood and daily function.4

Understanding frequent heartburn

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Learn how you can help patients to manage frequent and occasional heartburn.


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Educational resources

Access educational resources to support your team’s understanding of heartburn and its management.


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Overview of frequent heartburn

Find out more about frequent heartburn including a profile of a patient who may suffer with condition.

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Nexium Control 20mg Gastro-Resistant Tablets (Esomeprazole)

Up to 24 hour relief and protection from frequent heartburn with just one pill a day.


Pack of Nexium Control capsules

Nexium Control 20mg Gastro-Resistant Capsules (Esomeprazole)

Up to 24 hour relief and protection from frequent heartburn with just one pill a day.

Easy to swallow mini capsules: 53% smaller than tablets.*

*based on volume of tablets vs. capsules


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