Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is the name given to the burning sensation that you can feel rising up your foodpipe into your throat.1,2 It’s caused by acids from your stomach flowing back up into your foodpipe, causing pain and discomfort.2

Causes & Symptoms

Stomach acids play an important role in helping to break down food (also known as digestion).1 At the top of our stomach is a thick muscular ring, called the lower oesophageal sphincter.1 This acts like a one-way valve between the stomach and foodpipe (the oesophagus), allowing food to pass down into the stomach and keeping it there.1

Except, sometimes, your lower oesophageal sphincter relaxes and opens up.2 This allows acid from your stomach the chance to escape, leaking back up into your oesophagus.1 Although most of the time these acids reflux back into just the oesophagus, for some people it can flow up as far as their throat.3

Reflux is a very common bodily function, in fact it often happens when you are not aware of it, but it’s most likely after you’ve eaten, before bedtime or when you’re lying down.1

You should contact your doctor if you have difficulty swallowing for more than a week, a persistent cough or coughing up blood, you are vomiting or have lost weight without trying4, or you’re aged 55 and over with new onset of symptoms.

The symptoms of acid reflux are:1-3

  • A burning sensation or discomfort in the centre of your chest/lower breastbone after eating – also called heartburn. You may find the burning pain rises up into your throat
  • A sour tasting fluid in the mouth, this is called regurgitation
  • Difficulty swallowing, finding it painful or uncomfortable to swallow or feeling there is a lump in your throat
  • Feeling sick
  • Hoarseness
  • Having to regularly clear your throat
  • A chronic cough
  • Tooth decay

In most cases, these symptoms are a natural response to the stomach acid irritating an unprotected oesophagus.2 

What causes acid reflux?

There are many different reasons acid reflux happens, from bending over, wearing tight clothes, having a medical problem (like a hiatus hernia) or taking certain medicines.1 One of the most common reasons is lifestyle, usually due to how and what you eat or drink: 2,5,6

  • Eating large meals or rushing your food
  • Fatty or spicy foods
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus fruits
  • Peppermint

Being overweight means there’s an increased pressure on your stomach, forcing open your oesophageal sphincter after eating.2 The same is true if you are pregnant2 – find out more on our pregnancy page.

But a hidden contributor? Stress.2 Not only can it increase the risk of acid reflux, but it can make you feel worse as stress makes you more sensitive to the effects. 2,7,8] Cutting out the stressors from your life could make a big difference.


It might sound strange, but it’s true.2,3 Some people find the acid, and other ingredients in their stomach contents, such as bile and pepsin, reflux further up from the foodpipe and into their throat and mouth.2 The medical name is laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) and the most common symptoms are a chronic cough or sore throat, hoarseness, recurrent throat clearing and the feeling that something is stuck in your throat.3 You might also find you experience chest pain, a runny nose that drips into your throat, asthma or chronic sinusitis.3 If these symptoms seem familiar to you, it’s best to see your doctor to get them checked out.

Yes, stress is known to cause acid reflux. It’s also been found that it makes you more sensitive to reflux, so your symptoms can feel worse.2,7,8

If you’re finding that your usual acid reflux symptoms, including how often you get it, are different to normal, then that’s a warning sign. The first thing is to consider if anything has changed in your life that might account for this: are you more stressed, have you been eating large meals or rushing your food, or eating foods that are more likely to cause reflux, such as fatty or spicy foods, citrus fruits, chocolate or peppermint?2,5,6 If you have difficulty swallowing for more than a week, a persistent cough or coughing up blood, you are vomiting or have lost weight without trying, or you’re aged 55 and over with new onset of symptoms, then you should see your doctor.4


We know how disruptive acid reflux can be on your everyday life, which is why the Gaviscon range is designed to relieve your discomfort. Our products contain a natural ingredient, sodium alginate, that forms a protective layer at the top of your stomach once it comes into contact with acids.9 This acts like a stop barrier to help prevent stomach acids – and bile and pepsin - flowing back up into your oesophagus, giving you the reflux relief you need.9

Gaviscon products also contain antacids, which turn excess acid into water, neutralising their harmful effects.2

By combining the two, you can enjoy powerful relief, thereby taking your life off pause as Gaviscon products start acting instantly.10, 11

How much Gaviscon you should take depends on your age:

  • In adults and children over 12 years, take 10-20ml of the liquid formulation after meals and at bedtime.10 If you are using Gaviscon Peppermint Chewable Tablets take 2-4 tablets after meals and at bedtime, up to four times per day.12
  • In children aged 6-12 years of age: 5-10mls of the liquid formulation after meals and at bedtime.9

All information presented is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. If symptoms are severe or prolonged you should consult a doctor or pharmacist.

Date of preparation: June 2021. RB-M-43765

  1. Guts UK. Heartburn and acid reflux. Accessed November 2020.
  2. Health Service Executive. Acid reflux. Accessed November 2020.
  3. Patel DA, et al. Gastroenterol Hepatol 2018;14:512-520.
  4. Health Service executive. Cancer, oesophageal cancer. Accessed November 2020.,-oesophageal/.
  5. Basu KK. The Prescriber, 2012; August; 19-26.
  6. Nwokediuko SC. ISRN Gastro, 2012: Article ID 391631.
  7. Hungin APS, et al. Am J Gastroenterol, 2019;114:414–4.
  8. Lee HS, et al. Neurogastroenterol Motil 2017;23:72-79.
  9. Gaviscon Liquid Peppermint Flavour. Summary of Product Characteristics. June 2021.
  10. Strugala V, et al. Int J Med Res, 2010;38:449-457.
  11. Gaviscon Peppermint Chewable Tablets. Summary of Product Characteristics. Accessed June 2021.

Frequent Sufferers

Repeatedly suffering from heartburn? Don’t let it put your life on pause.


Our bodies use stomach acid to break down the contents of food, and we have a valve or “gate” where our stomach meets our foodpipe (also known as our oesophagus).1 Occasionally, the acid does get through this valve and flows back up into our food pipe, causing acid reflux symptoms.1 Although it’s a problem that can affect people of any age, it’s more common if you are older as this valve gets weaker with age.2,3

If you’re finding that your acid reflux is becoming more frequent or it’s interfering with your life, then speak to your doctor as you may have a condition called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). Your doctor will be able to prescribe medicines that can help. Until then, have a look at your diet to see if there is anything you can change, or lose weight (if you need to) or stop smoking as these can all help your acid reflux.2

PPIs, or proton pump inhibitors, are medicines that block the acid-producing pumps in your stomach.4 Doctors often prescribe PPIs when you get acid reflux regularly or you find it very bothersome. They do take a few days to reach their maximum benefit, however, so you might find it helpful to take a Gaviscon product in the meantime to take control of your symptoms.4

Suffering from acid reflux regularly? Dealing with a burning feeling in your chest after eating? Finding this a troublesome problem?5 You might have what’s known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GORD.

Acid reflux is the main symptom of GORD.1 Instead of being an occasional problem, when your reflux becomes regular enough that you find it a real bother, that’s when it becomes medically classified as GORD.5  

If this is the case for you, you should speak to your doctor for advice and treatment. Although most people with GORD can be easily treated, it can lead to more serious complications, such as ulcers, bleeding and changes in the oesophagus, so it’s always best to get repeated, regular acid reflux checked out.2

The good news is that you can get control over GORD with simple lifestyle changes, such as changing what you eat and drink, and medicines from your doctor.2


  1. Guts UK. Heartburn and acid reflux. Accessed November 2020.
  2. Health Service Executive. Acid reflux. Accessed November 2020.
  3. Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Proton pump inhibitors as a pharmacy medicine. Accessed November 2020.
  4. Lee J, et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2007 Dec;5(12):1392-8.
  5. Hungin APS, et al. Am J Gastroenterol, 2019;114:414–4.

Date of preparation: June 2021. RB-M-43765