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Heart burn

What is Heart Burn?

Heart burn is a discomfort or pain caused by the stomach contents traveling up from the stomach up into the gullet (lower part of your esophagus). The gullet is not made to withstand acid and is irritated and inflamed when acid from the stomach travels up into it.

Sometimes the pain caused by heart burn can also be felt in the mid-line of the back.

Heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. Heart burn is a digestive problem. Heart burn is usually related to meals and posture and can often be relieved by remedies for indigestion. Most people suffer from heart burn at one time or another during their lifetime.

If you have heartburn, you might have a bitter taste in your mouth from stomach acid.

Heart burn is also called reflux esophagitis.

What are the Symptoms of Heart Burn?

The main symptoms are: burning sensation in the center of the chest and belching.

What Causes Heart Burn?

Heart burn is caused by a faulty muscle in the stomach. There is a "flap" at the top of the stomach that stops food from traveling back up into the esophagus. Sometimes the flap doesn't work properly and stomach acid escapes from the stomach. When the acid escapes, heart burn occurs.

Factors that contribute to heart burn: pregnancy, smoking, eating large meals, being overweight, and wearing tight clothing around the waist.

Is Heart Burn Caused by Hiatal Hernia?

Hiatal hernia is a very common condition. It occurs when the stomach partially sits in the chest cavity through a weakness in the diaphragm. Sometimes, a persistent hiatal hernia can cause heart burn. However, many people who experience heartburn do not have a hiatal hernia. Also, many people with a hiatal hernia do not experience heart burn. Your doctor can determine if heart burn is caused by a hiatal hernia.

Heart Burn Statistics

In the United States, about 50% of the population has heart burn at least once a month. About 7% of the population has heart burn daily.

How is Heart Burn Treated?

Heart burn can be treated by antacids or medication provided by your doctor.

Complications of Heart Burn

If heart burn is not controlled, it can cause serious complications. Some common complications of heart burn are:

  • Esophagitis
  • Esophageal bleeding
  • Esophageal ulcer
  • Barrett's esophagus
  • Strictures
  • Increased risk of esophageal cancer

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