Acid Reflux / Heartburn / GERD

Often described as a harsh, burning sensation in the upper abdomen, heartburn can radiate through the chest, and into the throat and neck. Other symptoms may also include regurgitation, difficulty swallowing and chronic coughing or wheezing.

Heartburn occurs when stomach contents leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that 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 that many call heartburn. The fluid may even be tasted in the back of the mouth; this is frequently called acid indigestion.

Heartburn that occurs once a month is considered mild. Heartburn once a week is considered moderate. And daily heartburn is considered severe. Heartburn that occurs more than twice a week may be considered gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and it can eventually lead to more serious health problems.

Mild to moderate heartburn usually is not a concern. However, if the heartburn becomes severe, problems such as swallowing difficulties, bleeding, or weight loss can develop. With GERD, a persistent inflammation of the lining of the esophagus occurs. GERD can lead to other health problems.

Persistent heartburn symptoms can be a sign of a more serious medical condition, such as severe inflammation of the esophagus or a tumor. It is important to be evaluated by your health professional if heartburn occurs more frequently and home treatment does not relieve the discomfort.