Abdomen | Gastroenterology | Reflux Heartburn (Symptom)
Excessive secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach cells gives rise to heartburn. It occurs when stomach acid backs up into the oesophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth into the stomach. If a person has heartburn more than twice a week, he or she may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Heartburn is a burning sensation in the lower chest, accompanied by a sour or bitter taste in the throat and mouth.
It usually occurs after having a big meal or while lying down. It is a condition in which stomach acid up the oesophagus. This occurs because the valve separating the stomach contents into the esophagus does not function properly. Normally, when food or liquid enters the stomach, a band of muscle at the end of the oesophagus, called the lower oesophageal sphincter or LES closes that part. If this band does not close properly, stomach contents can be returned (reflux) into the esophagus. This partially digested material can irritate the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms.
Heartburn is more likely to appear if a person has a hiatal hernia, which occurs when the top of the stomach protrudes upward into the chest cavity. This weakens the lower oesophageal sphincter and facilitates the reflux of acid from the stomach into the esophagus.