Also referred to as acid reflux, heartburn is an uncomfortable, painful, or burning feeling in your chest or throat that may begin after a meal and last a few minutes to many hours. It happens when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. Other symptoms may include a hot, sour, or acidic fluid felt in the back of your throat, as well as a cough that lasts for a while, sore throat, or hoarse voice.
If you experience heartburn, you know it's more than just uncomfortable or painful - it can affect your daily life. It can also disrupt sleep, productivity at work, and social occasions. It's important not to ignore your symptoms. Even a small amount of stomach acid can cause significant pain or discomfort. If left untreated, the stomach acid that causes heartburn can even damage your esophagus and teeth.
When deciding how to treat your heartburn symptoms, there are many options to consider. Occasional and frequent heartburn is relatively common and can be managed with lifestyle changes as well as with certain OTC medicines. There are also several lifestyle changes that you can make to help reduce or avoid the symptoms of heartburn including, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and/or practicing relaxation techniques.
More chronic or severe cases of heartburn can result from a diagnosed condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and may require more intensive medical care such as using prescription (Rx) medicines or even surgery. For more information about safely treating your heartburn symptoms, check out this advice from one of our medical experts.