- Heartburn is a feeling of burning in your chest.
- Heartburn is often linked to a specific food or beverages ingested.
- Lifestyle changes can alleviate heartburn in many cases.
- Heartburn is more common
Heartburn is a sensation of burning in the chest caused by stomach acid
backing up into the esophagus (food pipe). The burning is usually in the upper
and central part of the chest, just behind the sternum (breast bone). The
burning can worsen or can be brought on by lying flat or on the right side.
Pregnancy tends to aggravate heartburn.
Many people experience heartburn and there are a large number of
over-the-counter (OTC) medications and home remedies available to treat heartburn or
the symptoms of heartburn.
In most cases you will not need to see a health care professional, except if the
symptoms are frequent (several times a week ) or severe.
If heartburn is severe or the pain is accompanied with additional symptoms
such as shortness of breath, radiation into your arms or neck, you will need to
see a doctor to distinguish these symptoms from more serious medical conditions
such as a heart attack.
GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a chronic and more serious form of
If your heartburn symptoms occur more than twice a week you should see your
health care professional to make sure no serious problems are present.
What causes heartburn?
The esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth to the stomach) has a tight
band of muscles at the lower end (lower esophageal sphincter [LES]) that closes after
the food enters the stomach and prevents the stomach contents to reenter the
esophagus. If this sphincter weakens or relaxes at the wrong time, stomach acid
can back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn.
Picture of GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux disease, heartburn)
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/3/2014
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