What May Cause Daily Heartburn?

The pain and burning of heartburn occur when stomach acid comes up from your stomach and into your esophagus. If it happens every day, this can be a serious condition that needs medical care.

Heartburn occurs when acids from the stomach irritate the esophagus, the back of the throat. This condition may cause discomfort, reflux, or other symptoms like bad breath or cough. Symptoms may worsen in the evenings, after meals, or when a person is lying down, bending over, or exercising.

Around 20%Trusted Source of people in Western countries experience regular heartburn or related issues. When these symptoms happen daily, they may be part of a more serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Here’s more about why you might have heartburn every day, what to do about it, and when to see a doctor.

Learn more about GERD.

What can cause heartburn every day?

When you eat, the food goes to your esophagus and into your stomach. Once in the stomach, the food is broken down by stomach acids so it can move through the rest of your digestive tract. When too much acid is produced, it may move back into the esophagus and cause heartburn.

Occasional heartburn may be typical. You can get it after specific foods or by eating too much at one time.

Foods and beverages that may cause heartburn include:

  • alcohol
  • chocolate
  • coffee
  • fatty foods
  • spicy foods
  • tomatoes


Frequent heartburn is the most common symptomTrusted Source of GERD. To be diagnosed with GERD, a person must experience heartburn only twice a week. If you experience heartburn most days, it may be time to see a doctor. GERD may lead to complications without treatment.

Some factors may increase your chances of experiencing GERD. For example, if your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is relaxed or damaged in some way, the acids from your stomach may more easily move backward into the esophagus.

Other risk factors:

Does stomach acid always cause heartburn?

No. Some people may have silent reflux, where they have reflux but no heartburn pain or other symptoms. This condition, also called laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), may cause issues that mimic respiratory illness – chronic cough, sore throat, and postnasal drip.

That said, both GERD and LPR have similar complications and treatment options.

Can daily heartburn cause complications?

Treatment for heartburn includes lifestyle changes, like choosing different foods or eating meals at different times. There are also medications your doctor may prescribe to reduce your symptoms.

Without treatment, frequent heartburn caused by GERD may lead to more serious issues with the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract.

Complications may include:

Complications may also happen outside the esophagus:

What to do if you have daily heartburn

Over-the-counter (OTC) antacids may help with heartburn but should not be used as a long-term solution if your heartburn is daily. Antacids are made of calcium, magnesium, and aluminum. These active ingredients inhibit a proteolytic enzyme called pepsin and neutralize stomach acids so they do not cause heartburn.

There are also several lifestyle measures you can try to prevent heartburn or ease your symptoms at home, including:

  • eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day
  • avoiding meals in the hours before bedtime
  • lifting the head of your bed 4 to 8 inches to prevent reflux
  • working with your doctor to reach a moderate weight
  • reducing your stress levels
  • stopping smoking and drinking excess alcohol
  • choosing clothing that is not tight around your stomach

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with a doctor if these home methods don’t work and you are still experiencing frequent heartburn after 3 weeks. Your doctor can run tests to rule out more serious conditions and offer treatments that may help control your GERD and prevent further damage.

Your doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist if you have more concerning symptomsTrusted Source:

Prescription medications, like proton pump inhibitors or H2 receptor blockers, can help reduce heartburn and other GERD symptoms by reducing stomach acid production. It may take between 4 and 8 weeks for PPIs to work.

Gastric bypass surgery is yet another option for the most severeTrusted Source cases.


Daily heartburn may or may not be a reason for concern. Eating certain foods or other lifestyle factors may contribute to this condition. As a result, your heartburn may respond well to lifestyle and dietary changes. Other times, though, frequent heartburn may be a sign of GERD or other gastrointestinal issues.

If you experience burning, belching, and other symptoms, a doctor can order tests to rule out severe complications and offer relief through medications that neutralize stomach acid.