Mild heartburn occurs about
once a month. Moderate heartburn occurs about once a week.
heartburn occurs every day and can cause problems such as trouble swallowing,
bleeding, or weight loss. Heartburn with other symptoms, such as hoarseness, a
feeling that food is stuck in your throat, tightness in your throat, a
hoarse voice, wheezing, asthma, dental problems, or
bad breath, may be caused by a more serious problem, such as
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). A persistent
inflammation of the lining of the esophagus occurs in GERD and can lead to
other health problems. Heartburn may also be related to an infection with
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria.
Persistent heartburn symptoms can be a sign of a more serious medical
condition, such as severe inflammation of the esophagus or cancer of the
stomach or esophagus.
Heartburn is more serious when it occurs
with abdominal pain or bleeding.
- Abdominal pain, especially pain located
directly below the breastbone, may be a sign of more serious problems, such as
peptic ulcer disease,
gallbladder disease, a tear in the esophagus, or
inflammation of the stomach (gastritis). For more information, see
Abdominal Pain, Age 11 and Younger or
Abdominal Pain, Age 12 and Older.
of blood may mean bleeding in the digestive tract, often from the esophagus
or stomach. If you have bleeding in the esophagus, stomach, or part of the
small intestine attached to the stomach (duodenum), stools may be dark red or
black and tarry. Large amounts of bleeding can lead to
shock, a life-threatening condition. For more
information, see the topic
Nausea and Vomiting, Age 12 and Older.
Heartburn in children
Almost all babies spit up,
especially newborns. Spitting up decreases when the muscles of the esophagus,
which is the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach, become more
coordinated. This process can take as little as 6 months or as long as 1 year.
Spitting up is not the same thing as vomiting. Vomiting is forceful and
repeated. Spitting up may seem forceful but usually occurs shortly after
feeding, is effortless, and causes no discomfort.
vomit frequently after eating during the first 2 years of life have increased
chances of having heartburn and reflux problems, such as GERD, later in life.
Children with reflux problems also have increased chances of other problems,
sinusitis, laryngitis, asthma,
pneumonia, and dental problems. For more information,
see the topic
Nausea and Vomiting, Age 11 and Younger.
The treatment of heartburn depends on how
severe your heartburn is and what other symptoms you have. Home treatment
measures and medicines that you can buy without a prescription usually will
relieve mild to moderate heartburn. It is important to see your doctor if
heartburn occurs frequently and home treatment does not relieve your
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.