Heartburn—while the name may be misleading—is not a heart condition at all. It is a symptom of indigestion (acid reflux or GERD), making it a specialty of gastroenterology. Heartburn is a burning sensation in the upper chest which may radiate to the throat.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition is which gastric acid backs up into the esophagus, causing heartburn and nausea. The sphincter, a tight band of muscles at the bottom of the esophagus, closes after eating preventing the food in the stomach from backing up. When the sphincter becomes weak or relaxed at the wrong times, this can result in food or drink reentering the esophagus, causing heartburn. Some people may experience heartburn after eating certain foods or drinking certain beverages.


Heartburn can usually be managed through a variety of over the counter medication available. However, if symptoms persist, occurring more than twice a week, or if they are accompanied by shortness of breath or radiation to the arms and neck, you should see a doctor immediately.