Beware of Heartburn, the Dangers of Ignoring It

Most of us have experienced heartburn, and often we tend to overlook the pain, thinking it will go away with time. However, did you know that this symptom could be an indicator of a much larger problem if ignored?

Heartburn, also known as a burning sensation in the chest around the area of the sternum and upper abdomen, is a common symptom of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). The pain often intensifies shortly after meals, during the nighttime, or when lying down.

Heartburn should not be taken lightly. If it occurs frequently and starts to interfere with daily activities, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or through telemedicine.


When is the right time to see your doctor?

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience worsening symptoms or feel pressure on your chest, especially if accompanied by difficulty breathing. Here are some conditions that warrant a consultation with your doctor:

  • Heartburn occurring more than twice a week
  • Symptoms persist even after using over-the-counter medications
  • Accompanied by nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss, difficulty swallowing, and decreased appetite



Heartburn is caused by stomach acid refluxing back into the esophagus and sometimes even reaching the mouth. This can result in a sour or bitter taste for those experiencing it.

Under normal conditions, the food we eat slowly passes through the esophagus into the stomach. At the end, there is a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter that prevents food from flowing back into the stomach. However, when this valve weakens or becomes damaged, stomach acid can flow back into the esophagus, eroding its lining and causing heartburn. The pain intensifies when lying down or bending over.


Risk Factors

Certain foods and beverages should be avoided to prevent initiating heartburn. These include:


  • Onions
  • Acidic foods
  • Fatty foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcoholic and carbonated beverages
  • Coffee and other caffeinated drinks


Tips and Tricks to Manage Heartburn

To avoid heartburn, you can follow these tips:

  • Avoid consuming acidic foods in the morning.
  • Improve your lifestyle by maintaining an ideal body weight.
  • Reduce consumption of fatty and spicy foods by establishing a proper eating schedule.
  • Avoid delaying meals.
  • Avoid lying down immediately after eating. Stay upright.

If there is no improvement with these tips, promptly consult to your doctor.




Oliveria et al., 1999, Heartburn Risk Factors, Knowledge and Prevention Strategies Arch Intern Med New York.