A heartburn is defined as a burning sensation or warmth in the chest, usually behind the breastbone after eating. It arises once stomach fluid moves back into the esophagus.
The acid and bile from the stomach might irritate and burn the esophagus, throat and vocal cords.
Generally, everybody has experienced heartburn occasionally. In most cases, it is mild and lasts briefly. If an individual experience the condition most days of the week, it is diagnosed as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This condition requires treatment since it can cause damage to the esophageal lining.
What is the cause?
When swallowing food and liquids, they move down the esophagus into the stomach. There is a muscular ring around the lower end of the esophagus that opens to allow food to move into the stomach.
Essentially, the muscular ring closes and prevents the stomach contents from moving up to the esophagus. In case the muscle is weak, overly relaxed or subjected to excess pressure, it might open and allow the backflow of the stomach contents into the esophagus. This can trigger irritation of the esophagus and cause pain.
The usual signs might include:
- Burning sensation or warmth in the chest or throat
- Sour or bitter taste in the mouth
- Frequent episodes of dry cough
- Belching and sensation of fullness or bloating in the stomach
The heartburn typically arises 30-60 minutes after ingesting a large meal, particularly if the individual bends down, lifts objects or lies down.
It is recommended to seek emergency care if heartburn does not settle within 15 minutes after treatment or if there is chest discomfort that comes and goes as well as sweating.