What is heartburn?

Heartburn, also called acid indigestion, is a burning chest pain that begins behind your breastbone and moves up to your neck and throat.

Causes of heartburn

Heartburn occurs when a muscle at the bottom of the esophagus opens to let food in and closes to keep food in the stomach. This muscle is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When your LES relaxes too often or for too long, acid backs up into your esophagus.

Some health problems that may lead to heartburn may include:

  • Gastritis, a redness or swelling (inflammation) of your stomach lining
  • Ulcers, painful sores on the lining of your stomach, esophagus or the first part of your small intestine (duodenum)

Heartburn is the most common symptom of gastroephageal reflux disease (GERD) in adults.

Symptoms of heartburn

The most common symptom of heartburn is a burning sensation that begins in your chest and moves into your neck and threat. It can last as long as two hours. It often feels worse after you eat. Lying down or bending over can also cause heartburn.


Treatment of heartburn

Antacid medicines, often available over the counter, are the most common treatment for heartburn. Lifestyle changes — exercising regularly; eating smaller, more frequent meals; avoiding smoking, alcohol, aspirin, ibuprofen and caffeine; and sleeping with your head elevated — can also be helpful.

When heartburn happens over and over, it may be a sign of GERD. Like heartburn, medication is a common treatment for GERD, but surgery is sometimes an option.

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Treatments for Heartburn

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Symptoms and Screenings for Heartburn

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Causes and Preventions for Heartburn

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Education and Resources for Heartburn

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Support groups for Heartburn

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Learn More about Heartburn

Vidant Health can connect you to health care professionals to help you understand your condition and guide you through the treatment process. Let’s chat.

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