Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease is caused by the incompetence or loosening of the lower esophageal sphincter. The sphincter between the stomach and esophagus is allowing stomach acid and sometimes food to enter into the esophagus causing pain and burning in the chest and throat area.
It is common in 30-40% of the population. Factors that contribute to the dysfunction of the LES or lower esophageal sphincter include weight gain, eating fatty foods, caffeine, carbonated beverages, alcohol, smoking and some drugs.
Signs and symptoms:
Heartburn is the primary symptom of GERD. It is a burning sensation that spreads up from the stomach to the chest and throat. Other symptoms include sore throat, hoaresness, and a mild cough. Heartburn is most likely to occur during the following activities:
- Eating a heavy meal
- Bending over
- Lying down, particularly on the back
Endoscopy with biopsy