fried eggs, bacon on plate

What is heartburn?

Most people will experience heartburn if the lining of the esophagus comes in contact with too much stomach juice for too long a period of time. This stomach juice consists of acid, digestive enzymes and other injurious materials.

The prolonged contact of acidic stomach juice with the esophageal lining injures the esophagus and produces a burning discomfort. Many people describe this burning discomfort as localized behind the breastbone. Some even experience the bitter or sour taste of acid in the back of the throat. The burning and pressure symptoms of heartburn can last for several hours and often worsen after eating food.

How common is heartburn?

More than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. Some studies have suggested that over 15 million Americans experience heartburn symptoms each day.

Symptoms of heartburn, also known as acid indigestion, are more common among the elderly and pregnant women.

What are the treatments for infrequent heartburn?

In many cases, doctors find that infrequent heartburn can be controlled by lifestyle modification and proper use of over-the-counter medicines.

  • Avoid foods and beverages that contribute to heartburn.
    These foods include chocolate, coffee, peppermint, greasy or spicy foods, tomato products and alcoholic beverages.
  • Stop smoking.
    Tobacco inhibits saliva, which is the body’s major buffer. Tobacco may also stimulate stomach acid production and relax the muscle between the esophagus and the stomach, permitting acid reflux to occur.
  • Lose weight if you are too heavy.
  • Do not eat 2-3 hours before sleep.
  • You may get relief from an over-the-counter antacid or an H2 blocker, some of which are now available without a prescription.