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What are the Most Common Causes of Heartburn and Bloating?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated: May 17, 2024

There are many potential causes of heartburn and bloating, ranging from gastrointestinal disorders to normal digestive processes which occur on a day to day basis. In most cases, these symptoms are not cause for concern. Common causes of heartburn include inflammation in the stomach or a stomach that is too full, eating foods which relax the esophageal muscles, or pregnancy. Bloating is often caused by eating too quickly, intestinal gas, or severe constipation. Both conditions can be present separate or together, especially in those with chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.

Heartburn and bloating are generally caused by different phenomena which occur during normal digestion, but they are interrelated in many conditions. Slowed digestion, for instance, has several potential causes and can result in both symptoms. Pregnancy, which puts added pressure on all areas of the abdomen, is also one of the most common causes of heartburn and bloating.

Generally, heartburn occurs when too much stomach acid is pushed into the esophagus. This can result when the stomach becomes too full or when the wrong foods are ingested, resulting in relaxed or weakened sphincter muscles. Bloating is most often caused by gas in the digestive tract, either through bacteria breaking down partially digested food or through swallowing too much air during eating.

One of the most common causes of heartburn and bloating is eating the wrong foods or eating too much food. This can not only lead to slowed digestion, which is a primary cause of increased stomach acid being pushed into the chest and throat, but it also causes more gas to be produced during the digestive process. Both heartburn and bloating can be the result.

Pregnancy is also one of the most common causes of heartburn and bloating. These symptoms are most common during the final trimester when the growing baby is expanding in all directions. This leads to pressure being put on the stomach, resulting in displaced acid and foods being digested more slowly. Symptoms generally subside once the woman gives birth.

There are also more serious causes of heartburn and bloating, including a bowel obstruction or inflammatory disease. These should be diagnosed by a doctor, as they may cause serious complications if left untreated. Irritable bowel syndrome is another chronic condition which is often accompanied by heartburn and bloating. It is generally not serious, but can cause severe pain and discomfort.

Over the counter treatments are available for both heartburn and abdominal bloating. They are most effective if the underlying cause of these conditions is a simple one. If either symptoms persists for more than a week or two, a visit to a physician is recommended.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By ddljohn — On Mar 04, 2014

I don't eat the wrong foods, I don't eat too quickly or swallow air while eating or due to smoking. I have heartburn and chronic bloating because of a medication that I have to take.

By serenesurface — On Mar 03, 2014

@fBoyle-- Eating too quickly can definitely cause symptoms like nausea, bloating, stomach cramps and heartburn. You might also be eating unhealthy foods with too much oil or spice.

Try to give yourself more time for meals at work. Always eat sitting down and use utensils. These are factors that slow down eating time. If you eat standing up or if you don't use utensils, you are more likely to rush.

Also, use antacids and cut down on caffeine. People who work long hours tend to have a lot of coffee and caffeinated soda to get through the day. I too used to do the same. But these increase acidity and cause heartburn. Sodas can also cause bloating. So watch out for these.

By fBoyle — On Mar 03, 2014

I frequently suffer from heartburn and bloating. I don't eat very large meals but I eat very quickly and I'm guessing that this is the problem. I have a very busy work schedule with lots of meetings. Sometimes, I only have ten minutes to eat so I rush through my meals. It has become a habit now. Even at home, I've started eating very quickly. I don't know how to change this but I need to because I'm tired of the bloating, belching and heartburn I have after meals.

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