Acid Reflux: The Ultimate Guide – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment




What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is a burning sensation in the chest which occurs when stomach acid rises up through the oesophagus into your throat – it can cause heartburn and an unpleasant or sour taste in your mouth.1


What does Acid Reflux feel like?

Acid reflux typically feels like a burning sensation in the chest (known as heartburn).1 Pain is usually felt under the breast bone in the centre of the chest and it often rises upwards and outwards.2  

Infographic showing the feeling of acid reflux

Symptoms of Acid Reflux

Symptoms of Acid Reflux are often worse when you’ve eaten, when bending over or lying down and include1: 

  • A burning feeling in the middle of your chest  
  • Unpleasant taste in your mouth or the back of your throat caused by stomach acid 
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquids 
  • Recurrent coughing or hiccups 
  • A hoarse voice  
  • Bad breath 
  • Bloating 
  • Nausea 


How long does Acid Reflux last?

The amount of time acid reflux symptoms last varies from person to person – it can be anything from 30 minutes to an hour.3 More rarely up to three hours.3  

If you experience acid reflux and heartburn most days for three weeks or more, you’re advised to see your GP.2 


Symptoms of Acid Reflux

Why Does Acid Reflux Happen? 

Acid reflux happens when the muscle (lower oesophageal sphincter) which joins the oesophagus to the stomach fails allowing stomach contents to travel in the wrong direction.2 If acid made in the stomach to aid digestion enters the oesophagus in sufficient quantities in can cause heartburn.2  

Certain factors increase the risk of heartburn such as smoking, excess alcohol, and bending forwards.2 

Alongside hormonal changes in pregnancy increasing the chances of acid reflux and heartburn, it tends to be more common from 27 weeks onwards when the growing baby pushes up against the stomach.2 



Stages Of Acid Reflux: How Does Acid Reflux Happen

Common Acid Reflux Causes

Acid Reflux is common and occasional reflux episodes are normal, sometimes there’s no obvious reason why.1  

It can be caused or made worse by1: 

  • Certain food & drink including caffeine, alcohol, fatty foods, spicy foods, fizzy drinks, and acidic juices 
  • Eating specific foods such as tomatoes, onions, garlic and chocolate 
  • Being overweight  
  • Smoking  
  • Pregnancy and an increase of hormones such as progesterone and oestrogen 
  • Stress and anxiety  
  • Some anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen 
  • Having a hiatus hernia – when part of your stomach moves up into your chest 

For more information, find out more with our posts on Stress and Acid Reflux and Acid Reflux diet tips 

woman holding chest with heartburn

Acid Reflux Relief & Treatment

There are number of simple lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent or reduce acid reflux and heartburn.1

These include following a healthy, balanced diet, eating more slowly and not eating food ‘on the run’.4

Ways To Treat Acid Reflux At Home

If you find certain food and drinks trigger your acid reflux you may wish to avoid them altogether.4 

These can also include citrus fruits and juices.4 

It may also help to have drinks between meals instead of with a meal.4  

Other ways to stop or reduce acid reflux flare ups include1: 

  • Eating smaller portion sizes at mealtimes 
  • Avoiding food for a few hours before bedtime 
  • Using an extra pillow to raise your chest and head above your waist when sleeping 
  • Losing weight if you are overweight 
  • Avoiding smoking 
  • Reducing alcohol consumption 
  • Wearing loose fitting clothes 
  • Find ways to relax 
Tips For Acid Reflux, Heartburn & Indigestion

Acid Reflux Tablets

If you keep getting acid reflux and lifestyle changes aren’t working speak to your pharmacist for advice.1 

They may recommend stronger treatments such as acid reflux tablets or other treatments over the counter treatments such as antacids or alginates that may help to ease symptoms.1  

You can pick up Omeprazole over the counter from most local pharmacies with Pyrocalm Control. Omeprazole is the active ingredient in Pyrocalm Control which is a widely used treatment for heartburn and acid reflux. 


Acid Reflux Medical Help

If lifestyle changes and pharmacy medicines aren’t helping, you have acid reflux and heartburn frequently for three weeks or more or you have other symptoms – including losing weight for no reason or being sick – you should contact your GP.1 



Pyrocalm Control: Over the counter omeprazole

Treatment from a GP

GPs can provide stronger treatments including a medicine called a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) that reduces the amount of acid your stomach makes, such as omeprazole.1 Omeprazole is a widely used treatment for heartburn, acid reflux and indigestion4 and is the main ingredient in Pyrocalm Control. 

Proton pumps are enzymes in the lining of the stomach that assist with acid production – stomach acid helps to digest food.5 Omeprazole works to reduce stomach acid by preventing proton pumps from working properly.5 Omeprazole is safe to take during pregnancy and it might be recommended if lifestyle changes aren’t working.6 

However, always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine in pregnancy as medicines can affect the unborn baby. As well as being available on prescription you can buy omeprazole 20mg tablets from pharmacies and supermarkets.5 It can take two to three days to start working and you may have to take it for up to four weeks for it to take full effect.5 If you buy omeprazole over the counter; from a pharmacy or supermarket you’re advised to check with your GP before taking it for longer than two weeks.5 

Close up of a GP using a clipboard and pen

Essential information

Pyrocalm Control® 20mg Gastro-Resistant Tablets. For the short-term treatment of reflux symptoms in adults. 

Contains 20 mg Omeprazole. Always read the label. 

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Pyrocalm Control® 20mg Gastro-Resistant Tablets. For the short-term treatment of reflux symptoms in adults.
Contains 20 mg Omeprazole. Always read the label. Medicines can affect the unborn baby.
Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine in pregnancy.