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Frequent Heartburn

All about Frequent Heartburn

What is frequent heartburn?

Frequent heartburn is heartburn that occurs 2 or more times a week. In Australia, there are approximately 1.6 million frequent heartburn sufferers1.

Unlike occasional heartburn, which is quickly resolved (at least temporarily), the repeated flare-ups of frequent heartburn can be quite burdensome. It can interfere with normally enjoyable activities such as eating and drinking, and disrupt sleep3,4.

Frequent heartburn sufferers commonly try different treatment options. Did you know that up to 50% of heartburn sufferers are open to trying a new treatment1?

Who suffers from frequent heartburn?

There is no "typical" frequent heartburn sufferer. It affects men and women equally1 and increases with age until around age 705.

What are the symptoms of heartburn?

Frequent heartburn is a symptom of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) and can cause a burning pain in the chest rising up to the throat. Heartburn is caused by food and acid from the stomach washing back into the oesophagus that can also result in an unpleasant sour taste (acid regurgitation).

Heartburn is more common after meals, especially fatty meals, and at night, since acid that enters the oesophagus is not cleared as effectively during sleep2,3.

What causes frequent heartburn?

Stomach acid is normally blocked from entering the oesophagus by the lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS). The LOS opens to let food pass from the oesophagus into the stomach and remains closed between meals.

In certain people, particularly as they age, the LOS does not close tightly, allowing the passage of caustic stomach acid into the oesophagus. This causes the pain and discomfort of heartburn.

Lower oesophageal sphincter

While symptoms may be triggered or aggravated by stress or certain foods, lifestyle alone is often not the root cause of frequent heartburn.

Man sleeping on pillow

Frequent heartburn disrupts quality of life, including sleep3

Regardless of severity, frequent heartburn causes significant disruption to people’s lives2.

Although heartburn is not usually a serious ailment, frequent flare-ups negatively impact sufferers lifestyle and sense of well-being2. Frequent heartburn significantly disrupts many aspects of quality of life3.

Quality of life metrics for frequent heartburn sufferersQuality of life score 3

The top activities affected by frequent heartburn are1:

  • Ability to eat and drink what they want
  • Sleeping/lying down
  • Ability to concentrate
  • Ability to work, socialise and lead a normal life

Frequent heartburn sufferers report feeling1:

  • Irritable
  • Frustrated
  • Unhealthy
  • Sick
  • Resigned
Sequence of images of man

3 out of 4

frequent heartburn sufferers report that heartburn interferes with their sleep negatively impacting mood and daily function3.

Frequent heartburn sufferers need treatment that lasts1

Currently, many frequent heartburn sufferers rely on antacids or alginates to manage their symptoms1.

While these treatments provide immediate relief, they do not deliver the sustained relief that frequent sufferers want: they last only 3-4 hours1. Sufferers may take multiple daily doses to keep their symptoms at bay.

Did you know that up to 50% of heartburn sufferers are open to trying a new treatment1?


Diagram of stomach showing how an antacid neutralises the acid in the stomach,

  • Changes gastric acid to water and salt so neutralising it.
  • Repeated dosing necessary to provide relief from newly secreted acid.


Diagram of stomach showing the alginate raft

  • Forms a temporary physical barrier (or raft) on top of the stomach so stopping the contents escaping up through the LOS.
  • Effectiveness depends on stomach contents: ineffective if taken during a meal and when lying down.

H2 Blockers

Diagram of parietal cell

  • Reduce acid secretion by competing with histamine at the H2 receptor, one of three pathways that stimulate acid production.