Heartburn, which is also called acid indigestion or pyrosis, is typically a burning feeling in the chest behind the breastbone when acid from the stomach moves up into the esophagus.   It is usually worse when bending over or lying down. Most cases of heartburn are manageable with proper diet. However, if it is frequent, it may be a symptom of a more serious condition.


Symptoms include the above mentioned burning pain in the chest, often at night or after eating. If you experience heartburn more than two times a week, have difficulty swallowing,  if the chest pain occurs with difficulty breathing or pain in the arm or jaw, see a doctor immediately.


Foods and beverages that may trigger heartburn include black pepper, coffee, ketchup, onions, peppermint, tomato sauce, alcohol, chocolate, mustard, orange juice, soft drinks, vinegar, and fatty and fried foods.  It is important to learn how to eat properly.  Keep your weight down, avoid tight clothes, eat frequent small meals, elevate your head when reclining and stop smoking.


Heartburn symptoms are worsened by stress and anxiety. Try alternative treatments like light exercise, listening to music, relaxation techniques, aromatherapy, hypnosis and massage.  Heartburn can be caused by peptic ulcer, inflammation of the stomach lining or hiatal hernia. Heartburn may also be a symptom of angina or acute myocardial infarction.


When heartburn is frequent and disrupts your routine, it is called gastro esophageal reflux disease or GERD.


Treatment includes proper diet, medications and sometimes, surgery, since GERD can lead to complications.


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