Heartburn begins as a burning pain behind the breastbone, and it then usually radiates upward to the neck. There is often a sensation of food coming back into the mouth, and is accompanied by a sour or bitter taste in the mouth.
More than 60 million American adults suffer from heartburn at least once a month, and about 25 million American adults suffer from heartburn on a daily basis.
Approximately 94 percent of sufferers can link their heartburn symptoms to specific foods.
80 percent of heartburn sufferers report symptoms at night. 75 percent of heartburn sufferers say nighttime heartburn awakens them during the night, or prevents them from sleeping. 40 percent say that their nighttime heartburn symptoms affects their ability to work the next day.
While lifestyle habits can worsen your heartburn symptoms, and increase the number of heartburn episodes, heartburn is a medical condition with biological causes.
Heartburn is caused when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is located between the esophagus and stomach, is weakened or opens inappropriately. This allows acid and other stomach contents back into the esophagus, causing irritation.
Lifestyle changes can often reduce the onset of heartburn. These include knowing what are the good foods and bad foods for heartburn, avoiding alcohol consumption, stop smoking and reducing stress.
Heartburn is the most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. GERD also affects infants and children and adolescents. There are several ways to prevent the heartburn in adults and children, and several preventative steps for infants.
Chronic acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, can lead to serious complications. The constant presence of refluxed acid in the esophagus can lead to conditions such as Barrett's esophagus , erosive esophagitis, esophageal strictures, and even esophageal cancer.