The term "heartburn" refers to the pain in the esophagus or chest
that occurs when stomach acid is refluxed up into the throat (see reflux).
The medical term for heartburn is "reflux esophagitis".
Occasional heartburn is common and not necessarily serious.
Chronic heartburn is indicative of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
In severe cases, the refluxed acid goes all the way up into the mouth and is tasted.
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. 1
Researching symptoms of Heartburn: Further information about the symptoms of Heartburn is available including a list of symptoms of Heartburn, symptom news summaries related to Heartburn, other diseases that might have similar symptoms in differential diagnosis of Heartburn, or alternatively return to research other symptoms in the symptom center.
Misdiagnosis and Heartburn: Research more detailed information about misdiagnosis of Heartburn, failure to diagnose Heartburn, underlying causes of Heartburn (possibly misdiagnosed), or research misdiagnosis of other diseases
Statistics and Heartburn:
Various sources and calculations are available in statistics about Heartburn,
prevalence and incidence statistics for Heartburn,
and you can also research other medical statistics in our statistics center.
1. excerpt from Heartburn, Hiatal Hernia, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): NIDDK
Last revision: Nov 9, 2003
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