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Heartburn or pyrosis is a painful burning sensation in the esophagus, just below the breastbone. The pain often rises in the chest and may radiate to the neck or throat.

heartburn symptoms:

The main symptom of heartburn is a painful burning sensation in the upper chest. If the heartburn symptoms are intense, pain may radiate up into the neck and arms.


It is caused by the failure to close the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) at the top of the stomach. This allows stomach contents, now mixed with gastric acid, to return into the esophagus. This return is also known as reflux, and may progress to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) if it occurs frequently. Peristalsis, the rhythmic wave of muscular contraction in the esophagus, normally moves food down and past the LES.

causes of heartburn:

Many foods are known to cause heartburn. Here is a short list of these foods:

  • Alcohol
  • Coffee, tea, cola, and other caffeinated and carbonated beverages
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Tomatoes and tomato sauces (such as pizza and pasta sauce)
  • Spicy foods and fatty foods (including full-fat dairy products)
  • Peppermint and spearmint

heartburn treatment

If heartburn occurs when lying down, raising the head with pillows or sitting up frequently provides relief – although care must be taken to avoid placing continuous strain on the neck. Avoidance of certain foods shortly before bedtime is frequently advised as a preventative heartburn treatment.

Antacids, H2-receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors are used (in that order) to treat heartburn.

Posted by Staff at May 28, 2005 12:28 AM

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