Heartburn is characterized by a painful burning sensation that originates from the chest and spreads toward the throat. The main cause of heartburn is back flow of stomach acid into the esophagus (food pipe), leading to irritation in the unprotected esophagus. It is a very common symptom of the gastro esophageal reflux disease. It mainly occurs after taking meals, in the evening, or while lying down, and can last for several hours.
Due to physical and hormonal changes in the body, heartburn is very common during pregnancy. Usually, heartburn does not have any serious consequence; however, frequent occurrence can damage the esophageal lining.
Common symptoms of heartburn include burning sensation in the chest or throat, bitter or acidic taste in the mouth, difficulty in swallowing, pressure in the chest, bloating, etc. In most cases, heartburn does not need any special diagnosis.
Symptoms are easily recognizable. Generally, all these symptoms can be treated or avoided with over-the-counter drugs or just by changing the food habit and lifestyle. However, in cases of uncertainty or confusion about the symptoms, diagnostic tests that are usually considered by the physicians include X-ray or endoscopy to check the stomach and esophagus; pH test to check the acid in the esophagus; and esophageal motility testing to measure esophageal movement and pressure.