What is heartburn/acid indigestion?

Very simply, heartburn is a burning sensation or discomfort that is generally felt in the chest. This burning sensation is caused when the acids from your stomach travel up to your esophagus.

The acids in your stomach are quite normal. In fact, that's what helps to digest your food. And your stomach has a protective lining that can shield against these acids.

However, your esophagus does not have this lining and is very sensitive to gastric acid. Fortunately, the symptoms of heartburn can be treated with over-the-counter medications like Tagamet HB 200®.

Tagamet HB 200® relieves and prevents heartburn, acid indigestion and sour stomach by temporarily reducing the amount of acid that is produced in the stomach. And Tagamet HB 200® does not interfere with your ability to digest food.

Why do people get heartburn/acid indigestion?

When you swallow, food travels down a pipe called the esophagus and reaches a valve (lower esophageal sphincter or LES) which makes food's passage into the stomach a one-way trip. The LES responds to pressure by opening and, when the food has passed through, closing. Then the stomach, which essentially has an acid-proof lining, begins producing additional acid to digest food and kill bacteria.

However, certain foods or conditions can weaken the LES, causing the valve to open and letting the acid-laced stomach contents flow back into the esophagus. When that happens, the delicate tissues of the esophagus are literally burned by the acid. This creates the familiar, fiery sensation we call heartburn.

Can heartburn be prevented?

If you're in the habit of overeating, learn to stop before you're too full. A distended stomach often triggers the flow-back action. In addition, alcohol, caffeine, fatty and spicy foods and even peppermint can cause heartburn. Stress, smoking or being overweight can also contribute to the problem, as can lying down or exercising right after a meal.

What food triggers heartburn?

According to Ronni Chernoff, Ph.D., professor of nutrition and dietetics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, the following are the worst offenders:

  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee and other caffeinated beverages
  • High-fat meals such as cheeseburgers, fries and shakes
  • Hot peppers or spicy foods
  • Mint or spearmint
  • Oranges, tomatoes and other high-acid foods
  • Other known heartburn triggers include overeating, stress, smoking or being overweight