What Is Heartburn?

You’ve just finished eating and there it is: the burning sensation from heartburn. The discomfort is hard to ignore, generally occurring in the middle of your chest, just behind the breastbone. And while it feels like your heart is burning, rest assured it isn’t. So, what is heartburn?

Heartburn is the irritation that occurs when your stomach produces too much acid during digestion and backs up into your esophagus. Here’s how it happens:

  • After you swallow, your esophagus has a valve that opens like a gate to allow food and liquid into the stomach, then closes to keep acid from getting out.
  • If the valve doesn’t function properly, stomach acid can back up into your esophagus and cause the burning sensation you feel in your chest and even in your throat.
  • Heartburn can also leave you with a sour, bitter or acidic taste in your mouth.

“While it feels like your heart is burning, rest assured it isn’t.”

Heartburn is typically caused by diet and lifestyle choices, and often strikes after eating, when you’re digesting. But you can also feel it hours later after bending over or lying down, when gravity draws the acid into your esophagus (thanks, gravity).

Once you feel it coming on, you may wonder: how long does heartburn last? It depends:

  • Heartburn from eating spicy, acidic or heavy meals can last for just a few minutes, or until the food is digested
  • Heartburn can even last for two hours or longer — or return hours later from bending over or lying down

While heartburn can impact your day or night, you have the power to prevent or relieve it fast with Zantac 360°® — an all-in-one heartburn solution.