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Heartburn and indigestion are closely associated. That's because these conditions result from problems involving stomach acid. As a result, although the symptoms of the two conditions may differ, the remedies used to treat them are often the same.

The aim of heartburn remedies

Heartburn can result when the contents of your stomach, which include acid, pass upwards into your food pipe (gullet or oesophagus). This condition is also known as acid reflux.

Your oesophagus can't easily withstand the effect of acid because the acid isn't supposed to be there, and the result can be pain or "heartburn".

Heartburn remedies therefore aim to prevent acid from getting into the oesophagus in a number of ways, some form a physical barrier to protect from acid, while others aim to neutralise the acid or reduce the amount of acid in the stomach.

The aim of indigestion remedies

Indigestion can involve different symptoms to heartburn. They include pain in the lower chest area, in the abdomen and/or a feeling that your stomach is very full - known as ’bloating’. Indigestion may also cause belching.

Indigestion can result from excess stomach acid that irritates:

  • The lining of the food pipe, as with heartburn
  • The stomach lining; even though the stomach is designed to normally withstand acid, too much can cause a problem
  • The upper part of your small intestine, known as the duodenum.

Indigestion remedies therefore aim to stop the effect of acid by:

  • Physically stopping acid passing upwards from the stomach
  • Neutralising acid, so that it has a lesser or no effect on the lining of the food pipe - if it passes upwards (refluxes), or on the lining of the duodenum, when stomach contents move downwards into this first part of the intestine
  • Some remedies aim to reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces.

The different types of remedies

Heartburn or indigestion remedies can be put broadly into three groups:

  • Home remedies: such as peppermint oil, tea made from fennel or anise seeds, baking soda, or simply sipping a cup of hot water
  • Non-systemic remedies: These do not need to be absorbed into your blood stream in order to work, such as antacids and alginates
  • Systemic remedies: These do need to be absorbed into your blood stream to work, such as H2-antagonists and proton pump inhibitors

Gaviscon Double Action - a dual relief remedy

Interestingly, people can experience heartburn and indigestion interchangeably - sometimes together, sometimes one after the other.  Gaviscon Double Action (a non-systemic remedy) woks in 2 ways.

  1. It gets to work instantly to create a physical barrier to acid in the form of a raft (or layer) on top of the stomach contents. This helps stop acid refluxing into the food pipe.
  2. It also neutralises acid to help reduce its effect Gaviscon offers long lasting relief - lasting up to two times longer than other non-systemic remedies known as antacids.

So, heartburn and indigestion remedies can act in similar ways - it may just depend on whether each individual remedy is indicated for indigestion or heartburn. However, if you are ever in any doubt about whether you have either of these conditions, always seek medical advice. Likewise see a healthcare professional if your symptoms become very frequent or get much worse.

All information presented is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Gaviscon for Heartburn & Indigestion. Always read the label. If symptoms are severe or prolonged you should consult a doctor or pharmacist. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine.