That familiar burning in your chest can put a damper on any dinner or special occasion. Dealing with heartburn is no fun, and people with this condition search for solutions to soothe digestion and relieve the pain and discomfort. If you’re following a ketogenic diet or thinking about it, you might be wondering how going keto affects heartburn. Let’s dive in.
What Is Heartburn?
Heartburn describes a burning pain in your chest behind your breastbone. The pain usually worsens after eating, when bending over or lying down, and in the later hours of the day. The discomfort is often accompanied by a bitter or acidic taste in the mouth.
Heartburn now and then isn’t a cause for concern, but frequent or more painful heartburn that interferes with your daily life warrants attention and could be the symptom of a more serious health condition.
Most people can manage heartburn on their own with certain medications, supplements, and lifestyle changes. 
You should always visit your doctor or healthcare practitioner if you have any questions or concerns about heartburn or your digestive or general health. You should also visit your doctor for an evaluation if you have consistent vomiting or nausea, trouble swallowing, or weight loss due to poor appetite.
Chest pain could be a sign of a heart attack. If you have severe chest pressure or pain, particularly when combined with pain in your jaw or arm and breathing difficulties, you should seek medical attention immediately.
What Causes Heartburn?
The cause of heartburn isn’t definitive, but certain factors could increase your risk, such as:
- Being overweight or obese
- Being pregnant
- Drinking excess alcohol
- Having a hiatal hernia
- Taking medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, sedatives, and blood pressure medications.    
Heartburn is sometimes triggered by certain foods or drinks, such as:
Your esophagus is the tube that transports your food from your mouth to your stomach. Heartburn happens when stomach acid goes back into your esophagus. A muscle band around the bottom of your esophagus (esophageal sphincter) relaxes when you swallow, enabling your foods and drinks to flow through into your stomach. After you swallow, the esophageal sphincter tightens again.
Abnormal weakening or relaxing of this muscle band results in stomach acid flowing back up into your esophagus. Your esophagus isn’t equipped to handle stomach acid like your stomach is. Stomach acid irritates the esophagus and causes the symptoms of heartburn, known as reflux.
Frequent heartburn that gets in the way of your daily routine is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD can damage your esophagus over time and lead to inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis or Barrett’s esophagus). This inflammation gradually causes changes in the esophageal lining, heightening your risk of esophageal cancer. 
What Are the Treatments for Heartburn?
Most doctors recommend treating heartburn with several methods, such as:
- Over-the-counter medications
- Lifestyle changes like exercise, stress management, and a nutrient-dense diet
- Vitamins and supplements
- Weight loss
- Quitting smoking
- Therapeutic exercise
- High-fiber foods that make you less likely to overeat
- Alkaline foods like cauliflower and fennel
- Watery foods like celery and cucumber
- Herbal teas and broth-based soups
- Apple cider vinegar
- Lemon water
- Sleeping with your head in a more elevated position
- Waiting at least 3 hours to lie down after your meals
Doctors also recommend avoiding wearing tight clothes that put pressure on your esophageal sphincter and stomach. Some healthcare practitioners recommend supplementing with digestive enzymes or stomach acid (HCL) if stomach acid is too low.
Medications or surgery might be needed if heartburn turns into a severe case of GERD.