The typical heartburn symptom is a burning pain typically located behind the breastbone (thus the reference to the heart). However, the sensation may even be felt further up in the neck and throat.
Heartburn could be indicative of a more serious complication such as acid reflux disease.
Chronic heartburn could eventually lead to inflammation and scarring of the esophagus which may lead to difficulty swallowing and eating.
Heartburn occurs when stomach contents (acid, enzymes) enter the esophagus and irritate the esophageal lining.
This typically occurs due to poor function of the muscular sphincter which connects the esophagus and the stomach.
The sphincter’s role is to allow food and liquid to pass from the esophagus to the stomach while preventing stomach contents from passing back into the esophagus.
Heartburn (mild to moderate) symptom:
- burning pain behind the breastbone
Generally heartburn occurs more frequently when lying down as opposed to standing or sitting. Specific foods (chocolate, alcohol, coffee) and cigarette smoking are also known to promote onset of heartburn in some individuals.
Heartburn is also more likely to occur following a meal or snack when stomach acid production is increased.
Due to the severe complications that may arise from chronic heartburn, sufferers are urged to seek medical help for examination and potential diagnosis.
Relatively mild and infrequent heartburn symptoms can be typically be relieved with off-the-shelf antacid products. More severe cases require more powerful drugs and possible surgical intervention.