It is not uncommon for a person to say after an evening meal that does not particularly sit well with them that they have heartburn. While most people understand the sensation that a person refers to when they say they have heartburn, they’re not always able to articulate what the symptoms are.
It is important to point out that even though people refer to this sensation as heartburn, it has absolutely nothing to do with your heart. The reason why people call it heartburn is because a lot of the symptoms feel similar to the symptoms that a person experiences when they have a heart attack or when they are dealing with heart disease.
Simply put, heartburn stems from an irritated esophagus. This irritation comes from stomach acid. The human stomach produces an extremely strong acid that is used to digest food. When the acid is kept within the stomach, it usually does not cause discomfort. However, when the acid leaves its proper place, it can lead to a burning sensation or a feeling of discomfort in the upper abdomen or in the area right underneath the breast bone.
The human body has been designed with what is called the lower esophageal sphincter. This organ keeps stomach acid where it belongs, in your stomach. This valve sits right where your esophagus and your stomach meet each other. You’ll find it right underneath your ribcage just left of the center of your body. Normally, this valve will open when you swallow food so that the food can go into your stomach. It will also open when you belch, giving you the opportunity to release excess gas. Once these processes are complete, the valve should close again.
The problem comes when this valve or this lid opens at inappropriate times or when it does not close with a tight seal. This is what allows stomach acid to seep into the esophagus, leading to the burning sensation referred to as heartburn.
Most everyone experiences heartburn from time to time. The problem comes with chronic heartburn. There is a disease referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease. It is called GERD for short. This condition can be the precursor to some very serious health problems.
If you are dealing with heartburn or GERD, make an appointment at Surgical Associates of South Florida, located in Miami. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation to learn about your treatment options.