Heartburn is a feeling of burning in your chest, and is a symptom of acid reflux or GERD.
People experience heartburn after eating specific foods or drinking certain beverages.
Symptoms of acid reflux that may accompany heartburn include:
stomach pain in the upper abdomen,
persistent sore throat,
regurgitation of foods or liquids with a taste of acid in the throat, and
persistent hoarseness or laryngitis.
Diet and other lifestyle changes can alleviate heartburn for many people.
Heartburn is more common during pregnancy.
What is the definition of heartburn?
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 heartburn.
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.
Heartburn Symptoms and Signs
Heartburn is a common cause of a burning sensation in the chest and chest pain. Heartburn can be associated with symptoms such as:
a sour taste in the mouth,
sore throat, and
What are the symptoms of heartburn?
The usual symptom of heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest. It can be accompanied by:
a sour taste at the back of the throat, or
a feeling of food being stuck in the throat.
A person needs to be evaluated by a health-care professional as soon as possible if he or she has heartburn symptoms that are accompanied with:
shortness of breath,
radiation to the arms or neck,
dizziness or cold sweat.
Foods and beverages to avoid
Alcohol: Alcohol can relax the lower esophageal sphincter.
Coffee and orange or other acidic juices are some of the beverages that can worse or trigger heartburn.
Fatty foods, fried foods, and some acidic foods (oranges, grapefruits, tomatoes) as well as spicy foods can cause heartburn.
Every person reacts somewhat differently to specific food groups. To track what foods worsen your symptoms, keep a food journal. In this journal, you should keep track of what you eat, the time you ate, any activity that worsened or made the heartburn better, and indicate which days you have heartburn symptoms. Over time, you will be able to correlate the offending foods with heartburn events.