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Esophagus specialists at Houston Methodist Lynda K. and David M. Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders investigate and offer treatment plans for relief from heartburn symptoms that range from minor to severe.
Heartburn is a common condition that occurs when stomach acid is forced back up the esophagus. When this happens, a feeling of warmth or burning may occur in your chest. Minor heartburn after a heavy, acidic meal is not always a cause for concern. Occasional heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux — when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. Frequent heartburn can signal a more serious issue such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Stomach acid helps digest food and is extremely potent. While your stomach has a layer of mucus to protect it, the esophagus does not have a similar protective lining to cover the tube.
Acid can cause damage as it makes its way back up the esophagus. An inflamed or relaxed esophageal sphincter (a cylinder-shaped muscle that relaxes to allow food to pass through to the stomach) prevents complete closure of the esophagus once food has traveled to the stomach.
Top-Notch, Collaborative GI Care
Gastroenterologists at the Underwood Center have vast experience treating heartburn of any severity. Our specialists offer compassion and solutions to help you find relief from your heartburn — sooner.
U.S. News & World Report ranks Houston Methodist Hospital the best in Texas and No. 5 in the nation for Gastroenterology & GI surgery. U.S. News & World Report also named us No. 1 in Texas for the 12th year in a row and a nationally ranked Honor Roll hospital in 10 specialties.
Heartburn Causes & Treatment
What are the causes of heartburn?
Several factors can increase your risk of experiencing heartburn:
- Being an asthma patient with hard-to-treat asthma
- Being overweight
- Certain foods and beverages, including fatty foods, chocolate, spicy foods, acidic foods, caffeine (e.g., coffee, sodas and tea), alcohol and peppermint-flavored foods
- Lying down immediately after a meal
- Pressure applied to the stomach, such as with lifting, straining, coughing and wearing tight clothing
- Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
How is heartburn treated?
If you experience heartburn discomfort several times a week and it persists after antacids wear off, visit the center. A gastroenterologist will discuss your symptoms and determine the severity of your condition. You may be prescribed a medicine to help reduce excess stomach acid, such as any of the following:
- Acid blockers (H2 receptor blockers)
- Proton pump inhibitors
How can I find advanced care or a second opinion?