Heartburn 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 heartburn can also be felt in the mid-line of the back.

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

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


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


Heartburn 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, heartburn occurs.

Factors that contribute to heartburn:

  • pregnancy
  • smoking
  • eating large meals
  • being overweight

Is Heartburn 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 heartburn. However, many people who experience heartburn do not have a hiatal hernia. Also, many people with a hiatal hernia do not experience heartburn. Your doctor can determine if heartburn is caused by a hiatal hernia.

Heartburn Statistics

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

Treatment options?

Heartburn can be treated by antacids or medication provided by your doctor.


If heartburn 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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