How does heartburn occur?

Heartburn occurs when the sphincter separating the esophagus from the stomach is weak. When this sphincter is weak and does not keep the acid in the stomach, but instead allows the acid to travel up to the esophagus, this can cause a symptom called heartburn.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
The epicenter of the heartburn problem is the juncture between the stomach and the esophagus, the gastroesophageal sphincter. During normal digestion this band of muscle relaxes to allow swallowed food to enter from the esophagus into the stomach and contract when it is done. The stomach contains gastric juices, hydrochloric acid and enzymes that begin the process of digestion. When the sphincter pressure is lax, it causes the backflow of acid into the esophagus. It can cause burning pain or worse, damage sensitive tissue not accustomed to coming into contact with caustic stomach contents.

Continue Learning about Heartburn

How to Make Heartburn-Free Meals
How to Make Heartburn-Free Meals
If you have heartburn, meals can be a minefield. Careful choices may mean the difference between having a meal stay in your stomach or having it come ...
Read More
Which foods cause heartburn?
Marisa MooreMarisa Moore
Heartburn can be triggered by many factors but food is a major contributor. Here are some of the mos...
More Answers
How can heartburn affect my health?
MountainView HospitalMountainView Hospital
Heartburn is the reflux of stomach acid in the esophagus, and can lead to a variety of dangerous med...
More Answers
Lose Weight to Stop Heartburn
Lose Weight to Stop Heartburn

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.