What is heartburn?

A Answers (7)

  • ALoretta Lee, MD, Internal Medicine, answered on behalf of Johns Hopkins Medicine

    Heartburn (also known as acid reflux) is an uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest. Despite its name, heartburn doesn’t actually affect your heart - it begins in your esophagus.

    When you eat, food travels down your esophagus and into your stomach. The muscular valve that separates your stomach and esophagus is known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

    The LES has two functions: allow food from the esophagus into the stomach, and keep stomach acids from coming back up into the esophagus. Sometimes the LES allows stomach acids to reflux into the esophagus, resulting in a burning sensation.

    Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
  • Heartburn is usually experienced as a burning sensation or pain behind the breastbone or a backup of bitter acid into the mouth. Ten percent of Americans experience it daily, and 25 percent of pregnant women have heartburn. This discomfort is caused when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly and the stomach contents leak back into the esophagus.
  • Heartburn is a burning feeling in your chest. It's not a problem with your heart. It's a problem with how your body handles food. It happens when acid from your stomach backs up into your food pipe (esophagus).

    Most people have heartburn from time to time. There are many simple things you can do to treat it. But if you have heartburn often, you may need to see a doctor.
  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    2 031 04-1 heartburn

    Many people get burning and pain in their stomachs after eating a meal. Find out what the symptoms are for heartburn as Dr. Oz talks with Dr. Robynne K. Chutkan in this video.

  • AHealthwise answered

    Heartburn is an uncomfortable feeling or burning pain behind the breastbone. It may occur after eating, soon after lying down, when bending forward, or after taking certain medicines.

    Heartburn occurs when stomach acid backs up (refluxes) into the tube that leads from the mouth to the stomach (esophagus), causing pain or discomfort behind the breastbone, in the center of the chest, and occasionally in the back of the throat. Sometimes there may be a sour or bitter taste in the mouth.

    Antacids or other nonprescription medicines (such as acid reducers or acid blockers) may relieve heartburn.

    Heartburn can be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).


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  • ALawrence Friedman, MD, Gastroenterology, answered
    Heartburn is an expression of a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), often called "reflux," in which acid, pepsin (several enzymes secreted by the stomach to break down protein), or both rise from the stomach into the esophagus, much like water bubbling into a sink from a plugged drain.

    The burning sensation is usually felt in the chest just behind the breastbone and often extends from the lower end of the rib cage to the root of the neck. It can last for hours and is sometimes accompanied by the very unpleasant, stinging, sour sensation of highly acidic fluid rushing into the back of the throat.

    But the heart of heartburn and GERD is the burning behind the sternum. The sensation can be aggravated by many things, ranging from emotional stress to a variety of foods and even particular positions, like reclining or bending forward. While GERD -- and its symptom, heartburn -- can be difficult to cope with, many people manage quite well by controlling such things as stress, diet, or body position. However, many others spend countless hours and untold sums of money looking for relief.
  • AEllen Whitehurst, Health Education, answered
    Heartburn is actually not a burn nor does it affect the heart but, rather, is a result or an irritation caused by too much acid backing up for the stomach and affecting the esophagus. That why be that so many now refer to this same condition as acid reflux as that title is far more indicative of the condition. Heartburn is the result of eating or drinking caffeine, chocolate, cola, animal fats, friend or spicy foods, tomatoes, oranges, grapefruits or any and all other acid producing foods. Stress can also aggravate heartburn as active stomach acids react to that emotional state. Slippery elm bark, an all natural remedy available in most health food stores will neutralize acid and absorb gas while aiding digestion too. Use one teaspoon of slippery elm powder or one of slippery elm bark in a cup of just boiled water and drink that slowly down. It should help prevent any excess acid from coming up.
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