Frequent heartburn: Overview
Heartburn is a painful condition caused by stomach acid rising up (reflux) into the oesophagus where it causes irritation, felt as a burning sensation.
Heartburn is more common after meals, especially fatty meals, and at night, since acid that enters the oesophagus is not cleared as effectively during sleep.1
When talking to your patients about their heartburn treatment options, understanding how frequently they suffer is key to making a suitable recommendation.
Even mild heartburn experienced more than once a week (frequent heartburn) can make the oesophagus sensitive to acid so that it doesn’t take a lot to trigger burning pain.2
By trying some different lifestyle changes, depending on their heartburn triggers, patients can take back control.
These changes can be combined with medicines available over the counter.
Find out more about ways to support your patients manage their heartburn.
Heartburn is a common problem
More than one third of adults in Ireland are living with heartburn.3 20% of sufferers confirmed their heartburn has been worse since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.3
To find out more about the causes and triggers please click here.
Ask patients about their heartburn frequency
By asking your patients how often they suffer from heartburn each week can help to identify the most suitable treatment option.
To find out more about heartburn management click here.
Heartburn awareness month
Despite the fact that one third of the Irish population suffer with heartburn, only 34% have spoken to their pharmacist about managing their symptoms.3 Heartburn Awareness Month is designed to encourage sufferers to recognise symptoms and seek advice.
3 out of 4 frequent heartburn sufferers report that heartburn interferes with their sleep, negatively impacting mood and daily function.4
You can read our Pharmacy Guide to Frequent Heartburn here.
Occasional vs frequent heartburn
- Occurs sporadically - The cause is usually obvious often linked to overeating, spicy foods, rich desserts or alcohol
- Occurs more than once a week1 - More common after meals and at night - stress and food may be triggers but are not always the cause
Signs and symptoms
Typical heartburn symptoms are a burning feeling behind the sternum and an acidic taste in the back of the throat (acid regurgitation).1
Other symptoms include:1
- A cough or hiccups that keep coming back
- A hoarse voice
- Bad breath
- Bloating and feeling sick
Symptoms may often be worse after eating or when lying down or bending over.1
Patients should be advised to seek further advice if symptoms do not improve after 14 consecutive days of treatment. If any of the following red flag symptoms are present referral to the patient’s GP is recommended:5
- Chest pains with light-headedness, sweating, dizziness or shoulder pain with shortness of breath
- Vomiting blood
- Dark stools
- Feeling faint
- Problems swallowing
- Other problems such as unexplained fever, night sweats, weight loss for no apparent reason or a mass in the upper abdomen
Scott is 38 and has a busy job as a sales representative which means he often travels.
In the last few months he has been suffering with heartburn a couple of times a week. He notices it is worse at night and especially if he has eaten late or has a spicy meal.
He would like to find relief for his heartburn that lasts.
Understand more about frequent heartburn
Nexium Control 20mg gastro-resistant hard 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