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Heartburn is a pain which has absolutely nothing to do with the heart, and is instead caused by the contents of the stomach spraying upwards and entering the gullet (the lower part of the oesophagus). Sometimes just a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux and other similar disorders, it is usually related to meals and bad posture. Most people will suffer heartburn at least once in their lifetime.
Symptoms of HeartburnHeartburn's main symptoms are a burning sensation in the centre of the chest and burping, however sufferers may also experience burning up to the throat, a bitter taste in the mouth, difficulty swallowing and chronic coughing.
external image gord-acid-uk_default.gifCause of HeartburnHeartburn is caused by a muscle in the stomach failing. This muscle controls the valve which leads to the oesophagus and is definitely not the most reliable. The valve opens to let food through, and should close to stop the acids and food in the stomach coming back up. When this doesn't happen the stomach acids burn the weaker lining of the gullet and is very uncomfortable. Some people say that heartburn is an early sign of pregnancy, but no evidence confirming this exists. Heartburn is not a contagious disease so there is no reason to fear people with it.
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How Common is Heartburn?Almost everyone will experience heartburn at one time in their lives and 50%of Americans experience it at least once a month. When heartburn occurs frequently it may be the cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. GERD affects 10% of adults and can also be present in children.

Treatment For HeartburnHeartburn can be treated by acid suppressants, antacids and other medicines that increase the performance of the stomach, helping it to clear out the contents faster.