Heartburn is a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat (acid reflux). One study in people suffering from acid reflux showed that eating a meal containing raw onion significantly increased heartburn, acid reflux and belching compared with an identical meal that didn’t contain onion ( 37 ). Medications for GERD work to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach. They may not be effective for everyone. Some people need surgery to help reinforce the LES. Fatty foods (which should be decreased) and smoking (which should be stopped) also reduce the pressure in the sphincter and promote reflux.
Of those who regularly experience heartburn, 20-40% are diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is the most serious form of acid reflux. GERD is the most common digestive disorder in the US ( 3 ). Many people experience heartburn and there are a large number of over-the-counter (OTC) medications and home remedies available to treat heartburn. In fact, reflux of the stomach’s liquid contents one-time offer into the esophagus occurs in most normal individuals. One study found that reflux occurs as frequently in normal individuals as in patients with GERD. In patients with GERD, however, the refluxed liquid contains acid more often, and the acid remains in the esophagus longer. It has also been found that liquid refluxes to a higher level in the esophagus in patients with GERD than normal individuals.
What Is Acid Reflux? Read more about the chronic condition with symptoms similar to heartburn. Lots of people get heartburn from time to time. There’s often no obvious reason why. More than half of all pregnant women experience heartburn during pregnancy Increased hormones and pressure from a growing fetus can combine to produce this acid reflux symptom. In most cases, heartburn improves or completely goes away after delivery. Unsurprisingly, most reflux symptoms take place after a meal. It also seems that larger meals may worsen reflux symptoms ( 5 , 6 ).
Hiatal hernias usually do not require treatment. However, treatment may be necessary if the hernia is in danger of becoming strangulated (twisted in a way that cuts off blood supply) or is complicated by severe GERD or esophagitis ( inflammation of the esophagus). The doctor may perform surgery to reduce the size of the hernia or to prevent strangulation. Controlled studies also show that drinking wine or beer increases reflux symptoms, compared to drinking plain water ( 25 , 26 ). Acid reflux is a common medical condition that can range in severity from mild to serious. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the chronic, more severe form of acid reflux. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and GERD.