America Asks: Most Popular Questions About Heartburn

Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on November 03, 2022
3 min read

An estimated 20% of Americans suffer heartburn and acid reflux at least once a week. In fact, frequent heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). With GERD, stomach acid flows up into the esophagus, causing discomfort, a bitter taste, and sometimes difficulty swallowing.

Heartburn symptoms can interfere with meals, sleeping, and enjoyment of life. Indeed, if you have regular heartburn, you know how it can begin to rule your life.

To help Americans with heartburn, WebMD took our video crew to the streets. We discovered people's top concerns about heartburn and took their questions to Sandra Fryhofer, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine at Emory University, and Michael W. Smith, MD, WebMD's former chief medical editor. Do you have some of the same questions? Click on the heartburn questions below to see our doctors' answers.


Are ulcers and heartburn related? Find out what Fryhofer has to say about this risky connection.

Lori of Cleveland, Ohio wants to know why heartburn happens at night. The doctor weighs in.

"What's the difference between indigestion and heartburn?" asks Richard of Cary, N.C. Fryhofer lists the important symptoms to know.

Darren from Houston, Texas, wonders if putting on a few extra pounds could have worsened his heartburn. Fryhofer offers tips on weight and heartburn.

What's the difference between heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD? Suzi from Pittsburgh, Pa., wants to know. Find out what the doctor told her.

Marcus from Atlanta, Ga., has a chronic cough and frequent heartburn. Could his cough be related to heartburn? See what Fryhofer advises.

Can stress really trigger heartburn or is that just a myth? James from Lynchburg, Va., asks Fryhofer. See her surprising answer.

Cynthia from Greensboro, Ala., wants to know why GERD can be so dangerous. The doctor gives her the facts.

Lisa of Pelham, Ala., was recently diagnosed with Barrett's Esophagus. She wants to know what it is and why should she be concerned?


Jennifer from Knoxville, Tenn., recently had a baby and noticed that her heartburn got worse. What's the connection between pregnancy weight and heartburn? Smith explains.

Does sleeping on your left side ease heartburn? Dee in Atlanta wants to know if this is true or just another medical myth.

Ever worry that you may be having a heart attack when it's really heartburn? So does Melissa. Here are some key differences.

John gets a weird sensitivity in his teeth when he gets heartburn. His teeth actually hurt. He asks: Is this a normal heartburn symptom?

Ever get heartburn even if you hadn't eaten anything? So does Rodney from Charleston, S.C. See what Smith tells Rodney about some surprising heartburn triggers.