Heartburn and Its Affects

Heartburn and Its Affects

When we eat food it has to be absorbed by the body. The food that we eat produces some acids. This acid is stopped by the cells that protect the stomach and prevent inflammation. But when the acids reflux into the esophagus it causes inflammation as esophagus doesn’t have the protection.


  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Drugs
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Acidic juices
  • Acidic foods
  • Chocolate
  • Oily foods
  • Fried foods
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity


This condition of heartburn is called as Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD); it causes a sharp pain and burning sensation in the sternum or chest bone. This condition is misunderstood as heart attack many times. This happens as the acids float back and forth in the esophagus due to refluxes. This can be worse if you have heavy oily heals or dry meals and taking rest immediately after food.

  • Uneasiness
  • Chest pain
  • Discomfort in the stomach.
  • Bloating
  • Gastric trouble


  • Heartburn can cause ulcers.
  • If it is not treated and it can lead to a condition known as Barrett's esophagus, which may indeed lead to esophageal cancer.

Heartburn Diagnosis

Heartburn can be diagnosed by several tests and physical examination

  • X-ray
  • Endoscopy
  • Manometry and pH testing

Heartburn Treatment

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Eat small portions of food frequently
  • Don’t eat and sleep
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine
  • Avoid smoking
  • Elevate head while sleeping to maintain acid in the stomach to avoid acid reflux.

Heartburn Medication

Heartburn can be lessened by using:

  • Antacids
  • Supplements
  • See the doctor for proper medication

Heartburn Surgery

Yes, heartburn can lead to surgery if it is not treated at the right time.

  • If people have terrible discomfort and no medication is working
  • If someone has Barrett's esophagus
  • If someone is unable to breathe, has severe cold, pneumonia, and cough or wheezing
  • It is better to consult the doctor in the initial stages in order to avoid worse situation.
  • The doctor will decide if surgery is required and will let you know the best treatment available.


  • Heartburn is a medical condition that affects people up to 20% it is called GERD
  • When you are in the initial stages it can be controlled by some changes that can be made in lifestyle like avoiding smoking, regular exercise, avoiding alcohol consumption, avoiding starving, walking for some time after food, avoid sleeping immediately after meals.
  • There are certain medications that control heartburn provided you use them at the right time.
  • Obese people should lose weight and manage weight to reduce heartburn symptoms
  • As mentioned heartburn is not a simple problem that can be avoided it has to be treated if not it may lead to ulcers and cancer like Barrett's esophagus or esophageal cancer.
  • Heartburn also has to be addressed at the right age as people grow old these disease will become more severe and older people may not be able to take the pain of medication or surgery.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad