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What is heartburn?

Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest 1-3 that usually occurs after you’ve eaten certain types of food,4 along with other reasons. It’s a common problem, and the most common cause is acid reflux – when some of your stomach contents are forced back into the oesophagus (the tube that carries food down from your mouth).2,4


What's causing your heartburn?

There are often no obvious causes, but heartburn can be brought on by:

  • Eating certain foods, including:
    • Fatty or spicy food such as curry 5,7
    • Acidic foods such as citrus fruits 5,7
    • Tomatoes and onions 5
    • Chocolate 6,7
    • And even peppermint 6,7
  • Consuming certain drinks, including:
    • Caffeinated drinks, coffee, tea or alcohol 5,7
    • Carbonated beverages (soft drinks) 5
  • Overeating 5
  • Lying down too soon after eating 5
  • Being overweight 7
  • Smoking 5,7
  • Stress and anxiety 5,8
  • Pregnancy 5
  • And even wearing tight clothing 5


What are the symptoms of heartburn?

Think you might have heartburn? What should you look out for?

Common heartburn symptoms are:

  • Uncomfortable burning sensation in the chest where the discomfort tends to start from the lowest part of your chest, and eventually rises upwards. 1-3
  • Throat pain or an unpleasant sensation in your throat along with an unpalatable, acidic taste in your mouth. 1,9,10
  • Sometimes, a difficulty in swallowing – often accompanied by pain – or throat irritation leading to frequent throat clearing, coughing and choking. 10

Still have questions? If so, or if you notice yours are getting worse, please speak to your GP or a pharmacist.

How can I treat heartburn?

Looking for effective ways to help prevent and treat this common condition?

There are several steps your doctor might recommend to help ease your symptoms:

  1. Be drink aware - cut down on your tea, coffee, sugary drinks and alcohol. 5,7,11
  2. Avoid food before bedtime: stop eating 3-4 hours before you try to get to sleep 5,11
  3. Cut down on certain foods: reduce rich, spicy or fatty foods in your diet 5,7,11
  4. Try smaller and more frequent meals rather than the usual three larger meals per day 5
  5. Weight control: lose excess weight and try to do more exercise. 5,7,11
  6. Try changing sleeping position: prop your head and shoulders up in bed to help keep stomach acid down while you sleep. 5,7,11
  7. Stop smoking: aside from easing heartburn, this has many other health benefits. 5,7,11
  8. Drink more water: increase your water intake throughout the day.

Alongside lifestyle changes, your pharmacist may recommend taking a medication such as an antacid and/or an alginate.


How can Gaviscon help?

Gaviscon Double Action is a combination alginate and antacid, designed to relieve heartburn.

Gaviscon gets to work instantly, soothing in just 3 minutes 12 and lasting for up to 4 hours – two times longer than traditional antacids. 3,4

How Gaviscon works:

  1. As you swallow Gaviscon liquid, it soothes the throat and oesophagus. 12
  2. When it gets to your stomach, it only takes a few seconds for the sodium alginate in Gaviscon to react with the acid in your stomach to create a protective barrier or raft that floats on top of stomach contents. This raft keeps stomach acid from rising up and causing heartburn. 3,13
  3. Gaviscon also contains the antacids sodium bicarbonate and calcium carbonate. These antacids effectively neutralise stomach acid, which further relieves heartburn. 13

When should you take Gaviscon?

  • Take Gaviscon when you experience heartburn symptoms, or when they start to occur, such as after meals or just before bedtime. 13

Please note: All information presented is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Always read the label before taking any medication. If symptoms are severe or prolonged, you should consult a doctor or pharmacist.

*Based on survey of 13,831 Heartburn and Indigestion Sufferers from 5 Countries


  1. Kahrilas PJ et al. Regurgitation is less responsive to acid suppression than heartburn in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol, 2012a; 10: 612–9.
  2. Vakil N et al. The Montreal Definition and Classification of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: A Global Evidence-Based Consensus. Am J Gastroenterol, 2006; 101:1900–1920.
  3. Meteerattanapipat P & Phupong V. Efficacy of alginate-based reflux suppressant and magnesium-aluminium antacid gel for treatment of heartburn in pregnancy: a randomized double-blind controlled trial. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (44830): 1–6.
  4. Mandel KG et al. Review article: alginate-raft formulations in the treatment of heartburn and acid reflux. Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 2000; 14: 669–690.
  5. Pallentino J. Proton Pump Inhibitor Clinical Trials: Focus on Lansoprazole in the Treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Frequent Heartburn. The Internet Journal of Advanced Nursing Practice, 2009; 11 (1): 1–9.
  6. Kahrilas PJ. GERD pathogenesis, pathophysiology, and clinical manifestations. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 2003; 70(5): 5–19.
  7. Kahrilas PJ et al. American Gastroenterological Association Medical Position Statement on the Management of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Gastroenterology, 2008; 135:1383–1391.
  8. Farré R et al. Critical role of stress in increased oesophageal mucosa permeability and dilated intercellular spaces. Gut, 2007; 56: 1191-1197.
  9. Clarrett D & Hachem C. Science of Medicine Feature Series: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) 2018. Missouri Medicine,2018; 115 (3): 214 –218.
  10. Vaezi M. Sore Throat and a Red Hypopharynx: Is It Reflux? Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 2007; 5: 1379–1382.
  11. NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) Guideline: Indigestion, heartburn and reflux in adults – Information for the public, 2014.
  12. Strugala V et al. A randomized, controlled, cross over trial to investigate times to onset of the perception of soothing and cooling by over-the-counter heartburn treatments. The Journal of International Medical Research, 2010; 38: 449-457.
  13. S0 Gaviscon Double Action Liquid (Suspension) Package Insert, 3 May 2016.

Article published 1 January 2021