Heartburn (Acid Reflux)

  • Medical Author:
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

  • Medical Editor: Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)
    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Dr. Anand received MBBS degree from Medical College Amritsar, University of Punjab. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at the Postgraduate Institute of medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. He was trained in the field of Gastroenterology and obtained the DPhil degree. Dr. Anand is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

View the Heartburn Foods to Avoid Slideshow

Quick GuideHeartburn Pictures Slideshow: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

Heartburn Pictures Slideshow: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

Surgical procedures

Laparoscopic surgical procedures are available to treat heartburn. This option is usually only chosen if lifestyle changes and medications have not helped.

Heartburn during pregnancy

Pregnancy tends to aggravate heartburn because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is weakened during pregnancy. This weakened (LES) resolves after delivery of the baby. Pregnancy also distorts the organs in the abdomen and the increased abdominal pressure from the growing fetus causes heartburn. These changes promote the reflux of acid and heartburn.

Approximately 17% to 45% of women who become pregnant will suffer from heartburn.

Unfortunately there are no clear studies on the safety of heartburn medications on the growing fetus, and researchers are not going to test these drugs on pregnant women to evaluate how safe they are for the developing fetus, so the only option is to test these drugs on pregnant animals.

Management of heartburn during pregnancy consists of many of the same home remedies and lifestyle changes for a person with heartburn who is not pregnant (see previous section on home remedies and lifestyle changes).

How can heartburn be prevented?

The first step, as it is so often, is basic lifestyle changes. Stop smoking, lose weight, and watch what you eat (sounds familiar?).

If these interventions do not fully alleviate heartburn symptoms, then the addition of medications that decrease heartburn or prevent it all together, under the guidance of your health-care professional, should allow you to control heartburn.


Anand R Kumar* and Philip O Katz. Functional esophageal disorders: a review of diagnosis and management. Expert Review of Gastroenterology & Hepatology. July 2013, Vol. 7, No. 5, Pages 453-461.

NCBI. Juan C. Vazquez. Constipation, haemorrhoids, and heartburn during pregnancy. Clinical Evidence; 2008. PMC2907947.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/8/2015

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