Spot the Difference: Heartburn and Indigestion

Do you know the difference between heartburn and indigestion? More importantly, do you know how they can be treated, or even prevented?

To answer these questions, we must first take a look at the differences between the symptoms. Then we can move on to looking at relief and prevention.

How to Recognise Heartburn

Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, is the hot, burning pain you can feel when acid from your stomach refluxes, or comes up, into your food pipe (also known as the oesophagus). Unlike your stomach lining, however, the lining in your oesophagus isn't designed to protect against stomach acid. So, if acid gets into the oesophagus, it can cause pain.

Sufferers often described the feeling as:

  • A hot pain or burning sensation
  • A tight feeling
  • An acidic taste (with or without the feeling of sickness)

The affected area usually is centered around the chest, often behind the breast bone (sternum) and the back of the throat can feel hoarse, accompanied by a bitter taste. The feeling may last for a minute or two, several minutes, or even several hours with severe episodes.

How to Recognise Indigestion

Indigestion can involve a number of symptoms, which are all associated with our digestive processes. So, the symptoms are usually experienced after eating or drinking.

Food and drink can stimulate your stomach to produce excess acid which, in the case of indigestion, begins to break down the protective stomach lining. This is the innermost layer of the stomach that's directly in contact with its contents - including stomach acid. As a result you can experience:

  • Pain in the lower chest, abdomen or top of the stomach
  • Feeling bloated (when your stomach feels pushed outwards, full or bursting)
  • Gas build up - needing to burp or pass wind
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • A loss of appetite

Indigestion and heartburn causes

The two conditions are closely associated, since stomach acid is involved in both. In fact, 73% of people experience indigestion and heartburn interchangeably1. They can have the same causes too, and almost anyone can suffer, even people with a generally healthy lifestyle.

Causes include:

  • Eating big meals, irregular meals or eating on the run
  • Eating fatty foods, spicy foods, chocolate, mint or tomato products
  • Drinking caffeinated drinks, alcohol, very hot drinks or citrus juices
  • Pregnancy - hormonal changes and/or the pressure put on the stomach and digestive tract by a growing baby*
  • Various medicines
  • Carrying a little too much weight
  • Wearing tight clothes
  • Smoking
  • Stress

These causes mostly help to increase stomach acid or put pressure on the stomach. Some can affect the ring of muscle at the top of the stomach, causing it to relax and allow stomach acid to escape upwards into the food pipe. Heartburn or indigestion can therefore result from a variety of causes.

Preventing and treating heartburn and indigestion

If you find the cause of your condition, you may be able to take action to help prevent further episodes. A good way to discover triggers, is to start a food diary. Using this you can see which foods induce it more, and tailor your actions appropriately. These actions may include eating smaller amounts or cutting down on spicy foods. Or it may occur due to changing circumstances, such as becoming pregnant or taking on a particularly stressful new job. Therefore, it can vary from person to person and at different stages of their lives.

Gaviscon Dual Action to the rescue

Various types of medication may help to relieve the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. But Gaviscon Dual Action Liquids & Tablets utilise two processes to get to work fast. It neutralises unwanted, excess acid while also forming a layer, or raft, on top of the stomach contents to help keep acid in place. So whether you suffer from heartburn, indigestion or both, Gaviscon can provide effective, long-lasting relief. Gaviscon Dual Action Liquids and Tablets are widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies for relieving the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. You can find details of the whole Gaviscon range here.

All information presented is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Gaviscon for Heartburn & Indigestion. Always read the label. If symptoms are severe or prolonged you should consult a doctor or pharmacist.

All information presented is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Gaviscon for Heartburn & Indigestion. Always read the label. If symptoms are severe or prolonged you should consult a doctor or pharmacist. Medicines can affect the unborn baby. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine during pregnancy.



*Open controlled studies in 281 pregnant women did not demonstrate any significant adverse effects of Gaviscon on the course of pregnancy or on the health of the foetus/new-born child. Based on this and previous experience the medicinal product may be used during pregnancy and lactation.