In this new article, we discuss what causes everyday heartburn and give you some very useful, natural remedies that will help ease your discomfort.
Let’s get started
Heartburn means your heart is burning and you are in serious trouble.
Just kidding 😊
This unpleasant burning sensation in your chest comes from stomach acid returning back to the esophagus (a tube that connects your mouth and stomach).
Sour or bitter taste in mouth and a dry irritating cough can also indicate heartburn.
If you are wondering what causes everyday heartburn that comes all of a sudden — and spoils your mood — keep reading!
We will cover foods, habits, medications, and other factors that often cause heartburn.
You will also learn how to prevent and cure it naturally.
Acid reflux and acid indigestion refer to the same thing, while Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is diagnosed if the symptoms persist for 2 or more weeks.
In that case, you should go see a doctor.
Did you know? The American College of Gastroenterology estimates that around 15 million Americans have a problem with everyday heartburn.
Esophagus can’t stand the strong acid your stomach produces in order to digest food.
Muscles at the end of esophagus form lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which prevents the reflux of stomach content, including the acid.
This protective mechanism can fail if:
- Your LES is too relaxed.
- The stomach is under pressure.
- You are “defying gravity”.
- The stomach is producing too much acid (not as often as believed)
- The stomach is not producing enough acid (read on for the explanation)
Every potential heartburn cause contributes to one or more of these factors and thus enables the acid to ‘burn’ your esophagus.
NOTE: In rare cases, a heart attack can cause symptoms that resemble heartburn.
If your sudden chest pain is followed by sweating, short breath, and nausea — seek medical attention ASAP. I’m dead serious this time.
What Causes Everyday heartburn All of a Sudden — 11 Most Common Causes
1. Alcohol and Tobacco
Heartburn is just one of countless health risks associated with smoking and alcohol consumption. While tobacco smoking increases your risk of heartburn and GERD in the long run, alcoholic beverages can trigger heartburn all of a sudden.
They both reduce the tonus of your LES, enabling the acid reflux. Smoking also impairs the secretion of bicarbonate-rich saliva, which is meant to protect and clear the oesophagus. Alcohol makes things worse by weakening the oesophagus natural lining.
On top of that, beer and wine can over-stimulate acid secretion, regardless of their alcohol content.
If you have frequent heartburn issues, that’s another great reason to steer clear of smoking and buzz.
Coffee may be lurking as another cause of your everyday heartburn.
A study published in the Gastroenterology journal confirmed that coffee consumption relaxes the LES, which may lead to acid regurgitation.
Although decaf coffee seems to have a milder impact, caffeine is not the main culprit behind this potential side effect.
The research on this subject doesn’t lead to a clear conclusion, as some studies found no connection between drinking coffee and heartburn.
But your body knows better than all those scientists, so make sure you listen to it. If you suspect coffee gives you heartburn or makes it worse, give it a break for a week and observe the effects. Luckily, you can replace it with amazing energy-boosting teas.
3. Chocolate Can Cause Everyday Heartburn
Your sweet tooth ain’t gonna like this, but chocolate may also trigger heartburn attacks.
Again, the problem lies in LES relaxation and subsequent acid reflux.
Eating chocolate boosts your serotonin level, making you feel happy and relaxed.
Unfortunately, the same goes for your LES, which has different types of
And you know the drill: relaxed LES => acid reflux => heartburn
Theobromine and caffeine in chocolate may contribute to LES relaxation, too.
4. Acidic Drinks
Alcoholic beverages and coffee are acidic and that’s one of the reasons they can irritate your esophagus.
For the same reason, soft drinks may provoke a heartburn attack.What causes everyday heartburn? Plus simple natural remedies!Click To Tweet
5. Whole Milk
Due to the lack of enzyme lactase, many people don’t tolerate milk well and experience digestive issues after drinking it. On top of that, it may trigger or worsen heartburn attacks.
Milk is also acidic but its potential to cause acid reflux seems to come from fat content.
According to a 2010 study, regular (whole) milk causes more heartburn compared with low-fat milk.
From a nutritional perspective, low-fat milk is not the healthiest option, especially if it comes from factory-farmed cows.
If milk gives you heartburn and/or digestive problems, you may want to avoid it altogether and choose from a variety of plant-based alternatives.
6. Spicy Food
Spices offer a myriad of health benefits, but people with everyday heartburn issues should be careful with chilli and other hot ones.
In addition to this effect, spicy food can directly irritate the esophagus and make the heartburn symptoms worse.
The list of medications that may cause or worsen heartburn symptoms is quite long. The most common ones include:
- Antibiotics: they kill the probiotic gut bacteria, which may lead to impaired digestion and acid reflux.
- Oral bisphosphonates (Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel…): these osteoporosis drugs have a direct corrosive effect on the esophagus and thus may cause heartburn symptoms.
- Certain painkillers (Aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Naprosyn…): these non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can irritate the lining of your GI tract and block the synthesis of protective prostaglandins.
- Certain blood pressure medications: Calcium channel blockers and nitrates relax the smooth muscles in blood vessels, causing their dilatation. However, they also relax the lower esophageal sphincter and may contribute to acid reflux.
- Sedatives and narcotics: for the same reason as blood pressure meds. Additionally, they slow down the digestion process and increase the pressure on the stomach.
If you are suspecting any of the above drugs are causing your everyday heartburn, consult with your doctor about the potential changes in your treatment.
8. What Causes Everyday Heartburn – Fried And Processed Fatty Foods
In other words, junk food. Many report heartburn symptoms after eating burgers and deep-fried foods.
The mechanism most probably lies is LES relaxation, mediated by cholecystokinin (CCK) overproduction.
“A big greasy burger and supersized serving of fries right before bedtime is a good way to fuel the flame of heartburn.
Fatty foods, large portions, and late-night meals are the top three triggers that affect many people with heartburn.”
I’ll explain the other two triggers shortly.
9. Raw Onions
Onions are among the best foods to remove mucus and quiet the inflammation. However, some people with sensitive bellies experience heartburn attacks after eating raw onions.
A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology confirmed that “onions can be a potent and long-lasting reflux agent in heartburn patients”.
The cause? You guessed it—reduced tonus of the LES! Onions also contain specific fermentable fibre that may cause digestive issues in sensitive people.
Are onions or any other food or drink causing your everyday heartburn, all of a sudden?
The best way to find out is to keep track of your meals, exclude a suspect item for a week or two, and observe the changes.
I listed the most common triggers, but we all have different bodies and react differently to certain foods and drinks.
10. Conditions and Habits That Put Pressure on the LES
In certain situations, your stomach and the LES are under pressure and, as a result, acid can ‘sneak’ back into the esophagus, causing the unpleasant heartburn symptoms. The most common cases include:
- Pregnancy: As the baby grows, it puts strong pressure on the stomach and the LES often fails to keep the acid inside. That’s why many pregnant women experience heartburn.
- Large, late-night meals: Large portions add more pressure to your stomach. If you lie down (or bend, stretch, exercise, etc.) right after a meal, gravity will work against you and increase the pressure even more. And you know the consequences… That’s why large, late-night, junk food meals make for the worst ‘heartburn combo’. Same goes for your afternoon nap so try to wait 1-2 hours after lunch.
- Hiatal hernia: This means the stomach is dislocated, often putting pressure on the LES and causing heartburn symptoms.
- Obesity: Increased weight and belly fat can also expose your stomach and LES to additional pressure, bolstering the acid reflux. Among other amazing benefits, controlling the body weight may put an end to your heartburn problems (or at least alleviate them).
11. Low Stomach Acid
If you report heartburn, chances are your doctor will blame the stomach acid secretion and even prescribe you the medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to reduce it.
In most cases, however, heartburn occurs due to LES opening, not the acid secretion itself. Thus, suppressing it with medications may not target the real, underlying cause. Increased acid secretion is just another symptom that has a root cause to be detected and treated.
What’s more, chronic use of PPIs comes with side effects that every patient should be warned about.
Again, this article is for informational purposes only and you should never take or discontinue any drug without medical supervision.
It’s common medical knowledge (although forgotten nowadays) that heartburn can also indicate low stomach acid or hypochlorhydria.
Insufficient levels of stomach acid (HCl) can lead to bacterial overgrowth and impaired digestion.
Both conditions increase stomach pressure and enable acid reflux.
Heartburn is among the least concerning symptoms of hypochlorhydria, though. It may cause a range of health issues because the body can’t digest and use the nutrients properly.
Apple cider vinegar, ginger, Manuka honey, and fermented foods will naturally increase the level of your stomach acid, reduce inflammation, and fight pathogenic bacteria in your gut.
Natural Heartburn Remedies
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” — Benjamin Franklin
Like with any other condition, the best approach to treating heartburn is to identify and eliminate the root cause.
With this in mind, here’s what you should do to prevent heartburn attacks:
- Avoid the trigger foods and drinks (those from the list above, but also the ones you may have connected to heartburn attacks).
- Avoid overeating and reduce the portion size, especially for dinner.
- Don’t lie down, stretch, or exercise at least 1-2 hours after a meal.
- Slightly raise the head of your bed to keep the chest elevated if you have heartburn attacks at night (just adding more pillows won’t work) and don’t eat 3 hours before bed.
- Keep your weight in check.
- Address the primary conditions such as a hiatal hernia and hypochlorhydria if they are causing the symptoms.
Antacids, PPIs, and other acid-lowering medications may provide short-term relief, but they don’t offer a permanent solution.
And you definitely don’t want to suppress your acid secretion daily, for the rest of your life.
But here’s an idea for a quick fix, until you make all the necessary lifestyle changes.
Baking soda is a safe, cheap, and natural antacid that works well for most people.
Just dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of aluminium-free baking soda in a glass of water and drink slowly.
NOTE 1: It may cause burps because CO2 is released when soda neutralizes the acid.
NOTE 2: Baking soda and lemon juice are a great combination but not for heartburn.
In this mixture, soda already neutralized vitamin C and citric acid so it can’t neutralize your stomach acid.
What Causes Everyday Heartburn – Final Words
Many different foods, drinks, conditions, and lifestyle habits can cause everyday heartburn.
Hopefully, this article will help you find and address the root cause of your symptoms.
Until then, baking soda may offer a simple, natural solution for heartburn attacks.
Now it’s your turn!
Do you have troubles with everyday heartburn?
What is common heartburn cause I forgot to mention?
How do you deal with acid reflux?
Let us know in the comments section below.
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Thanks a lot for reading and see you in a comment section!
His main fields of interest are nutrition, herbal medicine, and a healthy sustainable lifestyle.
He found a way to merge his two biggest passions—writing and health—and use them for noble purposes.
Ultimately, Aleksa’s mission is to inspire the readers to improve their wellbeing and live their lives to the fullest.
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