Some medications may cause or worsen heartburn, which will usually resolve once a person stops taking them. People can speak with a doctor about changing or stopping medication if they think it is causing heartburn.

Heartburn is an uncomfortable, burning sensation in the chest that occurs due to acid reflux. Acid reflux is when stomach acid travels back up the esophagus — the tube that transports food and liquids to the stomach from the mouth.

Some medications may contribute to heartburn if they cause inflammation of the protective lining of the esophagus or if they weaken the lower esophageal sphincter.

This article looks at the types of medications that can play a role in heartburn, tips to prevent drug-induced heartburn, and when to contact a doctor.

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Certain medications may cause or worsen heartburn. Some medications may lead to esophagitis, which is an inflammation of the esophagus and can cause heartburn.

Some medications may cause the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to relax or weaken.

The LES is a muscle between the esophagus and stomach that allows food and liquids to pass through the esophagus to the stomach. It closes to prevent stomach contents from returning back up the esophagus.

If the LES weakens or relaxes, it can allow stomach acid to travel back up the esophagus, causing acid reflux and heartburn.

Learn about the difference between acid reflux and heartburn.

The following types of medications may cause or worsen heartburn:


Antibiotics are one of the most common types of medications to cause esophagitis. Symptoms of esophagitis include heartburn, pain behind the breastbone, and pain or difficulty swallowing.

The antibiotics that may cause heartburn include:

  • tetracyclines, in particular, doxycycline
  • clindamycin
  • amoxicillin
  • metronidazole
  • ciprofloxacin
  • rifaximin

Learn more about antibiotics.


Bisphosphonates slow the rate of bone loss. Doctors may prescribe them to treat conditions such as osteoporosis. Taking oral bisphosphonates may cause heartburn and irritation of the esophagus. Other side effects can include:

People may experience these side effects from any oral bisphosphonates, including:

Risedronate may be a more effective option than alendronate for reduced gastrointestinal side effects.

Learn more about bisphosphonates for osteoporosis.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs reduce pain and inflammation and many are available without prescription. NSAIDs such as aceclofenac, aspirin, and ibuprofen may cause esophagitis and heartburn.

These drugs can affect the features of the stomach and small intestine that protect them from stomach acid damage.

NSAIDs block an enzyme that creates prostaglandins, which are hormone-like chemicals that protect the stomach lining against stomach acid.

Learn more about NSAIDs.

Tricyclic antidepressants

Doctors may prescribe tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) to treat depression and other conditions. According to a 2021 study, TCAs may affect the function of the LES, delay stomach emptying, and worsen symptoms of gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), including heartburn.

Researchers have found that taking duloxetine, a different class of antidepressant, in combination with lansoprazole, a proton pump inhibitor, may be a better treatment option and may significantly improve heartburn in people with GERD.

Learn more about TCAs.

Blood pressure medications

Certain blood pressure medications, including beta blockers and calcium channel blockers, may cause heartburn.

These medications may relax the LES and reduce esophageal clearance, which is a process that protects against esophagitis due to acid reflux.

Learn more about blood pressure medications.

Asthma medications

Some asthma medications, such as theophyllines, may cause heartburn. Theophyllines are oral drugs to help ease asthma symptoms and breathing difficulties.

Theophyllines can weaken the LES, allowing stomach acid to travel back into the esophagus.

Other asthma medications, including beta-agonists and corticosteroids, may also cause acid reflux.

Read about the link between GERD and asthma.


Benzodiazepines are a class of drug that work as depressants, and people may take them to treat anxiety disorders or for seizure control.

Benzodiazepines, in particular diazepam, may cause heartburn as they can reduce LES pressure, causing it to relax and allow stomach acid to return up the esophagus.

Learn more about benzodiazepines.

Stopping taking a medication may resolve medication-induced heartburn, but it is important to talk with a doctor before changing or stopping any medication.

Taking a liquid form of the medication rather than a tablet or a non-oral alternative may help.

For short-term relief, a doctor may suggest taking antacids or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are medications that protect against acid reflux. PPIs that are available over the counter without a prescription include omeprazole (Prilosec) and esomeprazole (Nexium).

Drinking plenty of water when taking medication is also important. People should drink at least 200–250 milliliters (ml) with medication.

Other steps to help treat medication-induced heartburn include eating a meal after taking the medication and taking any medication at least 30 minutes before sleeping or lying down.

Learn how to deal with heartburn.

People can contact a doctor if they think medications or supplements are causing or worsening heartburn. It is important not to change or stop taking medication before talking with a doctor.

A doctor may suggest an alternative form or type of medication that does not cause heartburn as a side effect.

If a person continues to experience heartburn regularly after ruling out medication, they should consult a doctor. Frequent heartburn that occurs two or more times per week may indicate an underlying medical issue.

If medications are the only cause of heartburn, stopping the medication will likely resolve the heartburn and any other gastrointestinal side effects.

Esophagitis due to medication is usually temporary and may improve within 1–2 weeks of stopping the medication.

Stopping the medication can allow the esophagus to heal and return to normal.

Various medications can cause heartburn due to their effects on acid reflux, the function of the lower esophageal sphincter, and irritation or inflammation of the esophagus.

Stopping the medication can treat medication-induced heartburn. People can speak with a doctor if they think medications are causing heartburn. A doctor may suggest an alternative that will not cause heartburn as a side effect.