Heart Burn – An uncomfortable burning feeling in the Chest

Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

What is Heart Burn

Heartburn is an uncomfortable burning feeling in the chest, usually just behind the breastbone that normally comes in waves. The pain may begin in the chest area and travel up to the neck, throat and jaw. The pain generally gets bad when the patient lies down or bends over. It is more frequent right after eating meal. The condition is medically known as pyrosis or acid indigestion. “Heartburn” has nothing to do with the heart. Occasional heartburn is common and is not a cause of alarm. Recurrent heartburn that gets in the way of your every day schedule may be a symptom of something more serious that requires help from a physician. Heartburn is usually one of the main symptoms of GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease).

Symptoms of Heart Burn

Heartburn is an uncomfortable burning feeling in the chest that generally occurs after eating or may also occur at night. This pain usually worsens when lying down or bending over and normally comes in waves.

Causes of Heartburn

Erosions Caused by GERD
Erosions Caused by GERD

Heartburn occurs when stomach acid travel back into your esophagus. When you eat food or drink something, your lower esophageal sphincter (a circular band of muscle around the bottom part of your esophagus) relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow down into your stomach. Then it closes again. When lower esophageal sphincter loosen up abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus, causing heartburn. Some of the conditions mentioned below may be the reason of Heartburn:-

  1. GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease)
  2. Obesity may also cause increased pressure in the abdomen, and thus cause acid reflux
  3. Hiatal Hernia where a portion of the stomach lies within the chest instead of the in abdomen
  4. Pregnancy can cause increased pressure within the abdominal cavity and affect lower esophageal sphincter function

Heartburn Triggers

Heartburn is in fact a symptom of GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease), and is caused by acid refluxing back into the esophagus. Triggers are as follows:-

Heartburn Treatment

It is frequent to have heartburn occasionally; it is generally nothing to worry about. With some lifestyle adjustments and over the counter medication one can deal with the discomfort without seeking medical help.

  1. Antacids, such as Maalox, Mylanta, Gelusil, Rolaids and Tums, may provide quick relief. But antacids alone will not be sufficient if an inflamed esophagus is damaged by stomach acid.
  2. H-2-Receptor Blockers, include cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine (Axid AR) or ranitidine (Zantac 25, Zantac 75, Zantac 150). H-2-receptor blockers do not act as quickly as antacids, but they provide longer relief.
  3. Proton pump inhibitors. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are another class of drugs that block the production of acid by the stomach. and allow time for damaged esophageal tissue to heal. Over-the-counter proton pump inhibitors include lansoprazole (Prevacid 24 HR), omeprazole (Prilosec OTC), omeprazole (Prilosec, Rapinex), rabeprazole (Aciphex), pantoprazole (Protonix), nsoprazole (Prevacid), and esomeprazole (Nexium).

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