Heartburn is a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat (acid reflux). If it keeps happening, it’s called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
Check if you have acid reflux
The main symptoms of acid reflux are:
heartburn – a burning sensation in the middle of your chest
an unpleasant sour taste in your mouth, caused by stomach acid
You may also have:
a cough or hiccups that keep coming back
a hoarse voice
bloating and feeling sick
Your symptoms will probably be worse after eating, when lying down and when bending over.
Causes of heartburn and acid reflux
Lots of people get heartburn from time to time. There’s often no obvious reason why.
Sometimes it’s caused or made worse by:
certain food and drink – such as coffee, alcohol, chocolate, and fatty or spicy foods
stress and anxiety
some medicines, such as anti-inflammatory painkillers (like ibuprofen)
a hiatus hernia – when part of your stomach moves up into your chest
How you can ease heartburn and acid reflux yourself
Simple lifestyle changes can help stop or reduce heartburn.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals
Raise one end of your bed 10-20cm by putting something under your bed or mattress – to make it so your chest and head are above the level of your waist, so stomach acid doesn’t travel upwards towards your throat
Try to lose weight if you’re overweight
Try find ways to relax
Have food or drink that triggers your symptoms
Eat within 3 or 4 hours before bed
Wear clothes that are tight around your waist
Drink too much alcohol
Stop taking any prescribed medicine without speaking to a doctor first
A pharmacist can help with heartburn and acid reflux
Speak to a pharmacist for advice if you keep getting heartburn.
They can recommend medicines called antacids that can help ease your symptoms.
It’s best to take these with food or soon after eating, as this is when you’re most likely to get heartburn. They may also work for longer if taken with food.
See a GP if:
Lifestyle changes and pharmacy medicines aren’t helping
You have heartburn most days for 3 weeks or more
You have other symptoms, like food getting stuck in your throat, frequently being sick or losing weight for no reason
Your GP can provide stronger treatments and help rule out any more serious possible causes of your symptoms.
What is Esomeprazole?
Esomeprazole is a kind of PPI or Proton Pump Inhibitor. What it does is that it reduces the acid produced by the stomach.
It’s used for heartburn, acid reflux and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) – GORD is when you keep getting acid reflux. It’s also taken to prevent and treat stomach ulcers.
Esomeprazole comes as capsules, tablets, granules and as a liquid.
How to take Esomeprazole?
It’s usual to take esomeprazole once a day in the morning, with or without food. Swallow tablets whole with a drink of water. If you have problems swallowing tablets, you can put them in a glass of water. Stir until the tablets start to break up, then drink straight away.
Who can and can’t take Esomeprazole?
Esomeprazole can be taken by adults. Children should only have Esomeprazole if their doctor prescribes it.
Esomeprazole isn’t suitable for some people. To make sure that it is safe for you, tell your doctor if you:
Have had an allergic reaction to Esomeprazole or any other medicines in the past
Have liver problems
Have a glucose, sucrose or lactose intolerance (where your body cannot absorb these types of sugars) – some capsules contain small amounts of lactose, glucose or sucrose
How and when to take it
You can take it with or without food.
The usual dose to treat heartburn and acid reflux is 20mg a day, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is 20mg to 40mg a day and stomach ulcers is 20mg a day
Your doctor may suggest taking esomeprazole only when you have symptoms. This means you won’t have to take it every day. Once you feel better, you can stop taking it – often after a few days or weeks. Taking esomeprazole this way isn’t suitable for everyone. Speak to your doctor about what’s best for you.
Most people who take Esomeprazole do not have any side effects. If you do get a side effect, it is usually mild and will go away when you stop taking Esomeprazole.
Common side effects
Common side effects may happen in more than 1 in 100 people. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or don’t go away:
Feeling sick or being sick (nausea or vomiting)
Stomach pain or wind
Serious side effects
Serious side effects happen in less than 1 in 1,000 people. Call a doctor straight away if you have:
Joint pain and abnormal changes in your skin, especially in parts of your body exposed to the sun, such as a red, raised rash on your arms that can spread, blisters, or a red rash on your cheeks and nose. These can be signs of a rare condition called subacute cutaneous lupus Erythematosus that can happen weeks to years after taking Esomeprazole.
Reddening, blisters and peeling of the skin. There may also be severe blisters and bleeding in the lips, eyes, mouth, nose and genitals. These could be signs of a rare reaction to the medicine Stevens-Johnson syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis.
Yellow skin, dark pee and tiredness. These can be signs of liver problems.
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, it’s possible to have a serious allergic reaction to Esomeprazole.
A serious allergic reaction is an emergency. Contact a doctor straight away if you think you or someone around you is having a serious allergic reaction.
The warning signs of a serious allergic reaction are:
Getting a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
Tightness in the chest or throat
Having trouble breathing or talking
Swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat
These are not all the side effects of Esomeprazole. For a full list see the Patient information leaflet.
Further information can be found on the manufacturers