Acid reflux is an uncomfortable, sometimes painful condition that affects the digestion system. A ring of muscle, the lower esophageal sphincter, opens and closes as food moves through into the stomach. When this opening does not seal entirely or opens too often, acid from the stomach can bubble up into the esophagus. Eating late, over-eating, pregnancy, and living an unhealthy lifestyle can cause acid reflux, which results in symptoms of varying severity. If acid reflux occurs more than two times per week, it may be a sign of a chronic form of acid reflux called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Heartburn, a burning sensation or pain in the chest, is one of the first noticeable signs of acid reflux. While heartburn is not always a sign of chronic acid reflux, if other symptoms are also evident, reflux could be the cause. Sometimes pain in the chest is an indicator that stomach acid is entering the esophagus, though it can also indicate heart problems, and in some cases, acid reflux or heartburn and heart issues are mistaken for one another. Prolonged chest pain should always prompt a person to seek medical evaluation.
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