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Heartburn

Heartburn: Introduction

GERD is an acronym for gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD is a very common condition. GERD results from the relaxation of the muscles around the entrance to the stomach, which allows a back flow of food, stomach acid and digestive enzymes up into the esophagus. This is called acid reflux.

Ongoing acid reflux can lead to inflammation of the esophagus and GERD. Typical symptoms of GERD include a burning sensation in the upper abdomen and chest, heartburn, and indigestion. Some people with GERD may also have a condition called hiatal hernia, which can aggravate symptoms of GERD.

Complications of untreated GERD include the development of esophageal ulcers, scarring of the esophagus, Barrett's esophagus, and increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. For more details about symptoms and complications, see symptoms of GERD.

GERD is most common in people who smoke, are overweight or obese, are pregnant, and/or are older or elderly.

Diagnosing GERD and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination.

Diagnostic testing generally includes an endoscopy procedure. In this procedure, a special lighted instrument is inserted through the mouth and throat into the esophagus and stomach. This instrument, called an endoscope, takes pictures of the esophagus and stomach and/or sends images to a computer monitor.

Another test that might be performed is esophageal manometry. This test measures the pressure and contractions of the muscles of the esophagus. This can determine if the esophageal muscles around the entrance to the stomach are abnormally relaxed, which can allow stomach contents to back up into the esophagus. Other tests may include tests that measure the amount of stomach acid that is produced.

A diagnosis of GERD and its cause may be delayed or missed because symptoms of GERD may be mild or intermittent and for other reasons. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of GERD.

Many cases of GERD can be prevented with lifestyle changes, such as not smoking and not drinking acidic beverages or alcohol to excess. There are also many other ways to prevent acid reflux and control the severity of GERD. These include losing excessive weight, avoiding large meals and eating several small meals every day. It is also important to avoid eating late at night or up to two hours before bedtime. Clothing should be loose and not increase pressure on or constrict the abdomen. People with GERD may need to sleep in a semi-upright position, which allows gravity to help keep stomach acid from flowing up into the esophagus.

Treatment of GERD may also include the use of antacids and other medications. If GERD is caused by a hiatal hernia, treatment will include addressing the hiatal hernia. Hiatal hernia and severe cases of GERD may require hospitalization and surgery. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of GERD....more »

Heartburn: Reflux refers to the stomach acid rising up the "wrong way" back up the esophagus and sometimes into the mouth. Pain from reflux is called heartburn. Chronic reflux that reoccurs or persists may be caused by GERD....more »

Heartburn: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of GERD and its underlying cause may be delayed or missed because the symptoms of GERD may not be severe enough or last long enough for a person to seek medical care.

Symptoms of GERD can also be similar to symptoms of a wide variety of other diseases and conditions. These include angina, indigestion, biliary colic, gastroenteritis, and gallstones. Other disease with ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Heartburn:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Heartburn. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Heartburn: Causes | Symptom Checker » | Assessment Questionnaire »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Heartburn

Home medical tests possibly related to Heartburn:

Causes of Types of Heartburn:

Review the causes of these more specific types of Heartburn:

Review causes of types of Heartburn in more specific categories:

Review causes of more specific types of Heartburn:

Heartburn: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Heartburn, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

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Heartburn Treatments

Treatment plans for GERD are individualized depending on the underlying cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age and medical history of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the cause, minimizes the discomfort of heartburn and indigestion, and decreases the risk of developing ...Heartburn Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Heartburn may include:

Review further information on Heartburn Treatments.

Alternative Treatments for Heartburn

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed as possibly helpful for Heartburn may include:

Stories from Users for Heartburn

Real-life user stories relating to Heartburn:

Message Boards for Heartburn

Symptom specific forums: The following patient stories in our interactive forums and message boards relate to Heartburn or relevant symptoms:

Diagnostic tests for Heartburn:

Various tests are used in the diagnosis of Heartburn. Some of these are listed below :

  • Physical examination
    • Look for evidence of anemia - e.g. pale skin and conjunctiva - may suggest chronic oesophagitis, chronic gastritis, peptic ulcer or stomach cancer.
    • Look for evidence of jaundice - e.g. yellow skin and sclera of eyes - may suggest gallstones that pass into common bile duct or cancer of the pancreas.
    • Abdominal examination for tenderness - e.g. tenderness in epigastric area (midline below ribs) may suggest peptic ulceration; tenderness over the right upper abdomen may suggest gall bladder disease.
  • more tests...»

Heartburn: Animations

Medications or substances causing Heartburn:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Heartburn as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Drug interactions causing Heartburn:

When combined, certain drugs, medications, substances or toxins may react causing Heartburn as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

  • Alcohol and Advil (Ibuprofen) interaction
  • Alcohol and Motrin (Ibuprofen) interaction
  • Alcohol and Nuprin (Ibuprofen) interaction
  • Alcohol and Aleve (Naproxen) interaction
  • Alcohol and Naprosyn (Naproxen) interaction
  • Alcohol and Ansaid (Flurbiprofen) interaction
  • Alcohol and Aspirin interaction
  • Alcohol and Indocin (Indomethacin) interaction
  • more interactions...»

Heartburn: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Heartburn may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Heartburn

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Heartburn:

Assessment Questionnaire: Questions your doctor may ask (and why!)

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Heartburn. These will include a physical examination and possibly diagnostic tests. (Note: A physical exam is always done, diagnostic tests may or may not be performed depending on the suspected condition) Your doctor will ask several questions when assessing your condition. It is important to openly share any pertinent information to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

It is also very important to bring an up-to-date list of all of your all medical conditions, medications including dosages, and names of numbers of any specialist you see.

Create your printable checklist here.

See Heartburn Assessment Questionnaire (34 listings)

Heartburn: Deaths

Read more about causes and Heartburn deaths.

Misdiagnosis and Heartburn

Heart attacks can be undiagnosed: Although the most severe symptoms of heart attack are hard to miss, there are varying degrees of severity. It is altogether too common for people to die from undiagnosed heart attack, or from delaying too long to call...read more »

Heart attacks can be overdiagnosed: Although many people die from heart attacks, there are also many cases where people fear that they have a...read more »

Cluster of diseases with difficult diagnosis issues: There is a well-known list of medical conditions that are all somewhat difficult to diagnose, and all can present in a variety of different severities...read more »

Chronic digestive conditions often misdiagnosed: When diagnosing chronic symptoms of the digestive tract, there are a variety of conditions that may be misdiagnosed. The best known, irritable bowel syndrome, is over-diagnosed, whereas other causes that...read more »

Rare heart condition often undiagnosed: The rare heart condition called long QT syndrome can lead to episodes of palpitations and rapid heartbeat. In rare cases, this undiagnosed condition can be fatal. It...read more »

Intestinal bacteria disorder may be hidden cause: One of the lesser known causes of diarrhea is an imbalance of bacterial in the gut, sometimes called intestinal imbalance. The...read more »

Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely to cause some level of diarrhea in patients. The reason is that antibiotics kill off not only "bad"...read more »

Heart attack can be over-diagnosed: Although heart attack is often undiagnosed, leading to fatality, it can also be over-diagnosed. People become concerned that a condition is a heart attack, whereas there are various less dangerous possibilities. After all, there are...read more »

Food poisoning may actually be an infectious disease: Many people who come down with "stomach symptoms" like diarrhea assume that it's "something I ate" (i.e. food poisoning). In...read more »

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it...read more »

Leg cramps at night a classic sign: The symptom of having leg muscle cramps, particularly at night, is a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes. However, there are also various other causes. See causes of...read more »

Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test blood pressure. The "cuff"...read more »

Celiac disease often fails to be diagnosed cause of chronic digestive symptoms: One of the most common chronic digestive conditions is celiac disease, a malabsorption disorder with a variety of symptoms (see symptoms of...read more »

Hypertension misdiagnosis common in children: Hypertension is often misdiagnosed in adults (see misdiagnosis of hypertension), but its misdiagnosis is even more likely in children. Some of the symptoms of hypertension that can be overlooked include ...read more »

Vitamin B12 deficiency under-diagnosed: The condition of Vitamin B12 deficiency is a possible misdiagnosis of various conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (see symptoms of...read more »

Chronic digestive diseases hard to diagnose: There is an inherent difficulty in diagnosing the various types of chronic digestive diseases. Some of the better known...read more »

Heartburn: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Heartburn

Research extensive quality ratings and patient safety measures for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in health specialties related to Heartburn:

Heartburn: Related Rare Diseases

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Heartburn: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Article Excerpts about Heartburn

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly, and stomach contents splash back, or reflux, into the esophagus. The LES is a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that acts like a camera shutter between the esophagus and stomach. The esophagus carries food from the mouth to the stomach.

When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation in the chest or throat called heartburn. The fluid may even be tasted in the back of the mouth, and this is called acid indigestion. Occasional heartburn is common but does not necessarily mean one has GERD. Heartburn that occurs more than twice a week may be considered GERD, which can eventually lead to more serious health problems. (Source: excerpt from Heartburn, Hiatal Hernia, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): NIDDK)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly, and stomach contents splash back, or reflux, into the esophagus. The LES is a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that acts like a camera shutter between the esophagus and stomach. The esophagus carries food from the mouth to the stomach.

When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation in the chest or throat called heartburn. The fluid may even be tasted in the back of the mouth, and this is called acid indigestion. Occasional heartburn is common but does not necessarily mean one has GERD. Heartburn that occurs more than twice a week may be considered GERD, which can eventually lead to more serious health problems. (Source: excerpt from Heartburn, Hiatal Hernia, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): NIDDK)

Heartburn, also called acid indigestion, is the most common symptom of GERD. Anyone experiencing heartburn twice a week or more may have GERD. (Source: excerpt from Heartburn, Hiatal Hernia, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): NIDDK)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not... (Source: excerpt from Heartburn, Hiatal Hernia, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): NIDDK)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, occurs when the lower ... (Source: excerpt from Heartburn, Hiatal Hernia, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): NIDDK)

Heartburn, also called acid indigestion, is the most common symptom of GERD. Anyone... (Source: excerpt from Heartburn, Hiatal Hernia, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): NIDDK)

Definitions of Heartburn:

A painful burning sensation in the chest caused by gastroesophageal reflux (backflow from the stomach irritating the esophagus); symptomatic of an ulcer or a diaphragmatic hernia or other disorder
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Organs affected by Heartburn:

The list of organs typically affected by Heartburn may include, but is not limited to:

Detailed list of causes of Heartburn

The list below shows some of the causes of Heartburn mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Heartburn?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Heartburn. Of the 163 causes of Heartburn that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 4 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 5 causes are "common" diseases
  • 1 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 1 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 2 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 156 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Heartburn:

The following list of conditions have 'Heartburn' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Heartburn or choose View All.

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Conditions listing medical complications: Heartburn:

The following list of medical conditions have Heartburn or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

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  • Hiatal hernia ... heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, reflux

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Doctors and specialists: Who should I consult about Heartburn?

Depending on the seriousness of the onset of Heartburn, you may want to consult one of the following medical professionals.

Important:In extreme cases, always seek advice from emergency services :

Classifications of Heartburn:

Subtypes of Heartburn:

Acid regurgitation (2 causes), Epigastric pain (93 causes), Gastroesophageal reflux (53 causes), Pyrosis (9 causes)

Medical Conditions associated with Heartburn:

Digestive symptoms (5299 causes), Abdominal pain (2568 causes), Burning symptoms (446 causes), Heart symptoms (2927 causes), Pain (6458 causes), Paresthesias (453 causes), Abdominal symptoms (5930 causes), Tingling (951 causes), Nerve symptoms (9132 causes), Common symptoms (8589 causes), Sensory symptoms (7134 causes), Chest symptoms (1355 causes), Esophageal symptoms (3079 causes), Digestive system symptoms (5299 causes), Sensations (6520 causes), Skin symptoms (5992 causes), Throat symptoms (3410 causes), Brain symptoms (2787 causes), Neurological symptoms (9575 causes), Respiratory symptoms (5166 causes), Skin problems (3422 causes), Mouth symptoms (6864 causes), Cardiovascular symptoms (3192 causes), Body symptoms (5672 causes), Breathing symptoms (3381 causes), Breath symptoms (3023 causes), Temperature symptoms (2497 causes), Head symptoms (10192 causes), Face symptoms (8109 causes)

Symptoms related to Heartburn:

Reflux, Chest pain (1053 causes), Throat pain (85 causes), Taste symptoms (94 causes), GERD (163 causes), Gastroesophageal reflux disease (163 causes), Burning chest (16 causes), Acidity, Peptic ulcer, Antacids, Lower oesophageal sphincter, Oesophageal motility disorders

Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

These general medical articles may be of interest:

Medical News summaries about Heartburn

Our news pages contain the following medical news summaries about Heartburn and many other medical conditions:

Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Heartburn:

More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:

 

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