Heartburn is an uncomfortable feeling of burning and warmth behind the breastbone (sternum) but sometimes rising as high as the neck.
Heartburn is usually due to regurgitation of gastric acid (gastric reflux) into the esophagus and is the major symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
In GERD the rise of stomach acid back up into the esophagus cause burning sensation.
Heartburn has nothing whatsoever to do with the heart though the discomfort of heartburn may be confused with heart pain and vice versa
Heartburn can be associated with sour taste in the mouth, dry cough, hoarseness, sore throat, and difficulty swallowing.
There are special protective cells that line the stomach to prevent the acid from causing inflammation. The esophagus does not have this same protection, and if stomach acid and digestive juices reflux back into the esophagus, they can cause inflammation and damage to its unprotected lining.
- Some common foods that we eat and drink, stimulate increased stomach acid secretion setting the stage for heartburn
- Over-the-counter medications also may precipitate heartburn examples, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxin etc
- Beverages like alcohol, carbonated drinks, acidic juices etc
- Smoking and the consumption of high-fat content foods
- Hiatal hernia where a portion of the stomach lies within the chest instead of the in abdomen,
- Pregnancy can cause increased pressure within the abdominal cavity and cause acid reflux.
- Obesity may also cause increased pressure in the abdomen, and thus reflux in the same way.