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What Are the Causes of Heartburn and Nausea?

author image Noreen Kassem
Noreen Kassem is a hospital doctor and a medical writer. Her articles have been featured in "Women's Health," "Nutrition News," "Check Up" and "Alive Magazine." Kassem also covers travel, books, fitness, nutrition, cooking and green living.
What Are the Causes of Heartburn and Nausea?
Antacids may not always relieve heartburn. Photo Credit heartburn image by Greg Carpenter from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Heartburn does not affect the heart; it is so named because it causes a burning sensation in the lower chest as well as a hot, bitter, sour or acidic taste in the throat and mouth that can induce feelings of nausea. Heartburn usually occurs after eating a large meal or while reclining just after eating. Additional symptoms of heartburn are chest pain, difficulty swallowing and the sensation of something stuck in the throat or chest, according to the FamilyDoctor website. Causes of heartburn and nausea vary.

Eating Habits

Dietary factors contribute to heartburn and nausea. Eating a large amount of food at one time can cause symptoms. Eating shortly before bedtime or lying down after eating are also factors. Certain foods are more likely to cause heartburn and nausea. The Cleveland Clinic warns that garlic, onions, chocolate, peppermint, citrus fruits, tomatoes and tomato-based foods, high-fat foods and spicy foods may cause or worsen heartburn. Beverages such as alcohol, citrus juices, carbonated drinks and caffeinated beverages also may contribute to episodes of heartburn and nausea.


Lifestyle habits may be responsible for heartburn and nausea. Obesity and low levels of physical activity may cause or increase symptoms, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Smoking is also a critical factor, because it relaxes the muscles of the lower esophageal sphincter, making it more likely that stomach acid will splash or regurgitate into the esophagus and throat, causing heartburn. Other lifestyle factors include wearing tightly fitting clothing, particularly around the waist.

Medical Conditions

Several medical conditions may cause heartburn and nausea. Most pregnant women experience heartburn and nausea, due to increased pressure on the stomach and weakening of the esophageal sphincter muscle. Problems with the gallbladder, which is a digestive organ that stores bile produced in the liver, may cause heartburn and nausea. Problems include gallstones and blockages in the bile duct, causing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, heartburn and abdominal pain. Disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux disease and a hiatal hernia may also cause heartburn and nausea.

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