Also called: Acid indigestion, Pyrosis

Heartburn is a painful burning feeling in your chest or throat. It happens when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach.

If you have heartburn more than twice a week, you may have GERD. But you can have GERD without having heartburn.

Pregnancy, certain foods, alcohol, and some medications can bring on heartburn. Treating heartburn is important because over time reflux can damage the esophagus.

Over-the-counter medicines may help. If the heartburn continues, you may need prescription medicines or surgery.

If you have other symptoms such as crushing chest pain, it could be a heart attack. Get help immediately.

Symptoms of Heartburn

The following features are indicative of Heartburn:
  • burning pain in the chest that usually occurs at night and after eating
  • pain that worsens when bending over or lying down

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Common Causes of Heartburn

The following are the most common causes of Heartburn:
  • acid reflux

Risk Factors for Heartburn

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Heartburn:
  • eating more spicy foods
  • eating onions
  • taking more citrus products
  • consuming tomato products, such as ketchup
  • eating fatty or fried foods
  • use of peppermint
  • eating chocolate in excess
  • consuming more alcohol, carbonated beverages, coffee or other caffeinated beverages
  • taking large or fatty meals

Prevention of Heartburn

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Heartburn. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • avoid tight fitting clothing, which puts pressure on abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter
  • avoid foods that trigger heartburn
  • avoid lying down after a meal
  • avoid late meals
  • elevate the head of bed if you regularly experience heartburn at night or while trying to sleep
  • avoid smoking

Occurrence of Heartburn

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Heartburn cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Heartburn can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Heartburn can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Heartburn

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Heartburn:
  • X-ray: To view the shape and condition of your esophagus and stomach
  • Endoscopy: To check for abnormalities in esophagus
  • Ambulatory acid probe tests: To identify when, and for how long, stomach acid backs up into esophagus
  • Esophageal motility testing: To measure movement and pressure in esophagus

Doctor for Diagnosis of Heartburn

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Heartburn:
  • Gastroenterologist

Complications of Heartburn if untreated

Yes, Heartburn causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Heartburn is left untreated:
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • damage to esophagus

Self-care for Heartburn

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Heartburn:
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Excess pounds put pressure on abdomen that causes acid to back up into your esophagus
  • Avoid tight fitting clothing: Puts pressure on abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter
  • Avoid foods that trigger heartburn
  • Elevate the head of your bed if you regularly experience heartburn while sleep
  • Avoid smoking: Smoking decreases the lower esophageal sphincter's ability to function properly

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Heartburn

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Heartburn:
  • Aromatherapy: Helps in relaxing
  • Massage: Used to treat heart problems
  • Relaxation techniques: To relax the signs and symptoms of heartburn

Time for Treatment of Heartburn

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Heartburn to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 1 - 4 weeks

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Heartburn.

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