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What is heartburn?

Heartburn is a burning discomfort that is generally felt in the chest just behind the breastbone. The burning sensation results when harsh stomach juices come in contact with and irritate the delicate lining of the esophagus, the tube-like

structure that connects the mouth to the stomach.

Heartburn is an uncomfortable feeling of burning and warmth behind the breastbone (sternum) but sometimes rising as high as the neck. It usually occurs after meals, when lying down, or at night while sleeping. Heartburn usually is due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the rise of stomach acid back up into the esophagus. Heartburn has nothing whatsoever to do with the heart though the discomfort of heartburn may be confused with heart pain and vice versa. Heartburn is a popular nonmedical term that often is referred to medically as pyrosis.

Heartburn occurs when the acid contents of the stomach pass backwards up into the food pipe (called the gullet or oesophagus). This is also known as stomach acid reflux. Most people have stomach acid reflux at some point in their lives, either as heartburn or acid regurgitation.

More information on heartburn

What is heartburn? - Heartburn (pyrosis) is a painful burning sensation in the chest caused by gastroesophageal reflux (backflow from the stomach irritating the esophagus).
What causes heartburn? - Heartburn is caused by stomach acids entering the esophageus (the food tube from the mouth to stomach) and burning the sides.
What are the risk factors for heartburn? - Risk factors for heartburn include hiatus hernia, obesity, pregnancy, large meal portions, and lying down.
What're heartburn symptoms? - Heartburn is a pain behind the breast bone, often described as burning in quality. Pain from the heart is also felt in the chest.
Is heartburn ever serious? - Severe heartburn can result in injury to the lower esophagus that requires treatment. Heartburn could be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
How to relieve heartburn? - The patient needs to take following measures to control and relieve heatburn. Avoid lying down right after eating and within two to three hours of bedtime.
What heartburn medications are available? - One of the simplest ways to relieve heartburn is to neutralise the acid with an antacid. H2 antagonists include medicines such as cimetidine, ranitidine, nizatadine and famotidine. 
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005, health-cares.net, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005