Understanding Heartburn & Indigestion

The terms heartburn and indigestion are often interchanged, but they are actually two different conditions.

Heartburn (or acid reflux)

  • Occurs when acid, which normally sits within the protected lining of the stomach, escapes back up into the oesophagus (food pipe)
  • Because the oesophagus is not as well protected as the stomach the acid can irritate the lining
  • This can cause painful symptoms such as burning, pain (usually behind the breastbone) and a feeling of sickness (often described as a 'bad taste in mouth')


  • This can also be caused by acid irritation - hence the common confusion
  • The term 'indigestion' encompasses a range of digestive symptoms
  • These tend to be milder - in comparison with heartburn - but include pain/discomfort in the upper part of the stomach, sickness and nausea and an uncomfortable bloated feeling

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