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Heartburn is the feeling of burning and pain in the chest, behind the breastbone. It occurs when the stomach acid or stomach contents backs up into the esophagus (a tube that connects mouth and stomach). This condition is mostly experienced after eating spicy foods or taking acidic beverages, it is commonly observed during pregnancy. Heartburn is the main symptom of gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition caused by acid refluxing into the esophagus.
Most of the people usually ignore heartburn, or just take few OTC pills for temporary relief. If heartburn is not treated effectively, it can cause erosions or ulcers in the esophageal lining and affects daily routine due to severe discomfort. Therefore, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are highly recommended.
A burning pain in the chest, especially after eating or while sleeping is the common symptom of heartburn. Other symptoms include:
Heartburn mainly occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. It is a symptom of other underlying conditions which may be caused by:
If heartburn is observed after taking certain foods, it is better to eliminate them from the diet.
The risk factors of heartburn include:
Heartburn if persists for a longer time is considered as GERD, which requires appropriate treatment. If not, it may result in serious damage to esophagus and surrounding parts.
To make a preliminary diagnosis, the doctor would take your medical history and performs a thorough physical examination. If any abnormality is suspected, the following tests are recommended:
Based on the diagnostic results, the doctor would choose an appropriate treatment option.
Heartburn can be managed by lifestyle modifications and medications. In rare situations, a surgical intervention may be recommended to help relieve from chronic heartburn or GERD.
Surgery is recommended if the symptoms are too severe, or if the patient develops any complication such as Barrett’s esophagus, severe pneumonia, or discomfort. There are different surgical approaches to heartburn such as Fundoliposuction, laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery, etc. The doctor suggests suitable surgery based on the patient’s condition and severity.
There are several ways that help reduce your symptoms of heartburn.
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