Skip to main content

Please note: Effective March 8, the Davis Avenue Parking Garage will be closed.

See our Visitor Information Page>

Health library

More than 60 million Americans have heartburn at least once a month. Find out what can trigger it.
Reviewed 4/16/2024

Heartburn triggers. Can you avoid the burn?

Heartburn occurs when stomach acid flows back up the esophagus. But avoiding common triggers can help prevent the fiery sensation. Keep scrolling to learn more.


  • Chocolate.
  • Citrus fruits.
  • Fatty or spicy foods.
  • Onions.
  • Peppermint or spearmint.
  • Tomatoes and tomato sauces.


Heartburn often occurs after overeating.


  • Alcohol.
  • Carbonated drinks.
  • Citrus juices.
  • Coffee and other caffeinated drinks.


Placing 6- to 9-inch blocks under the legs at the head of your bed can help prevent heartburn.


  • Being overweight.
  • Being under stress.
  • Smoking.
  • Taking certain medications.
  • Lying down too soon after eating.


There are many medications that can trigger heartburn. But don't stop taking them without talking to your doctor.


Sometimes heartburn can be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or other conditions. See a doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
  • Frequent heartburn (more than 3 times a week for more than 2 weeks).
  • Heartburn that doesn't get better despite lifestyle changes and antacid medicines.
  • Trouble or pain when swallowing.
  • Bloody or black stool.
  • Dizziness or light-headedness.
  • Shortness of breath, coughing or hoarseness.
  • Sweating when you have pain in your chest.

Heartburn doesn't affect the heart. But the symptoms of a heart attack can sometimes be confused for heartburn.

Learn about heart attack symptoms


Related stories