How Long Does Heartburn Last?

“How long does heartburn last?” is a common question among sufferers of acid reflux and other conditions that cause heartburn. Heartburn symptoms may last for only a few minutes or it may last for several hours. It can reoccur over a period of several days following a spicy meal or occur many times over a period of years depending on its cause.

The trigger for heartburn greatly affects the number of times one will experience bouts of heartburn. Conditions that trigger heartburn such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or hiatal hernia can cause episodes that last for several hours each. Food triggered heartburn in people with no other condition that predisposes them to acid reflux generally lasts just a few minutes or up to a few hours when those foods are consumed.


How long does heartburn last after eating a trigger food?

Foods that are acidic such as citrus fruits and those that contain caffeine such as coffee or chocolate can cause temporary heartburn. Other types of food and drink that are known to cause bouts of heartburn include alcohol, spicy foods, and fatty foods – to name a few. Heartburn brought on by foods usually lasts only as long as it takes the body to digest the food and clear it from the stomach area. It may take just a few moments or several hours for the heartburn to subside.


How long does heartburn last after over-eating?

Over indulging on your favorite spicy Mexican dish, that hearty winter chili, or having more than a few citrus and alcohol rich margaritas with dinner is another common trigger that can cause heartburn that seems to last. Over-eating may cause heartburn to linger on for several hours because it simply takes longer to digest more food. Over-eating also causes the stomach to stretch, which can make it impossible for the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to close, a muscle that prevents acid from entering the esophagus. Add a chocolate dessert and you have a triple threat for heartburn because chocolate is known to relax the LES.


How long does heartburn last if it’s triggered by hiatal hernia?

Most cases of heartburn occur because of a hiatal hernia in which a portion of the stomach extends up and into the esophagus. Where the stomach normally meets the esophagus, a muscle known as the LES works to keep food that has entered the stomach, as well as the acids in the stomach, from entering the esophagus.

Hiatal hernia weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing food and stomach acids to easily back up into the esophagus and cause the symptoms of acid reflux, which includes heartburn. Hiatal hernia is often asymptomatic (showing no symptoms at all). For those that do experience symptoms however, acid reflux that causes heartburn is a very common complaint. Heartburn cause by hiatal hernia can last for several hours and generally subsides after food has been digested.


How long does heartburn last during pregnancy?

Heartburn occurs during pregnancy because of gastric pressure in the stomach that weakens the LES and allows food and stomach acids up and into the esophagus. As the uterus becomes larger, other organs are moved within the body cavity to accommodate the growing fetus. This applies pressure to the contents in the stomach. Additionally, hormonal changes cause acid reflux to occur more often as well. Heartburn during pregnancy will last from several minutes to several hours for the length of the pregnancy. Symptoms typically subside after birth.


How long does heartburn last if it’s a side-effect of medication?

Certain medications cause acid reflux and heartburn symptoms. In many prescriptions medications, this can be a temporary side effect that passes with time. However, heartburn that continues to occur may prompt you to discuss alternatives with your doctor. In either case, heartburn caused by medication may last for hours or days, depending on how your stomach reacts to the drug.


How long does heartburn last in people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?

GERD is a life-long condition that can be minimized by making appropriate lifestyle and diet choices. Just like food and medication triggered acid reflux, GERD is triggered by what we put into our stomach, how much we eat, and other variables that can cause temporary reflux. GERD simply refers to a chronic condition in which acid reflux or heartburn occurs on a regular basis following exposure to a trigger. Heartburn caused by GERD will last the same amount of time per episode, depending on the trigger. Episodes of heartburn can reoccur any time acid reflux occurs.

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  4. Signs of Persistent Heartburn
  5. The Hidden Signs of Acid Reflux