SIU School of Medicine

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Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (Heartburn)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (sometimes called heartburn) is a physical condition in which acid from the stomach flows backward up into the esophagus. People can experience heartburn symptoms when excessive amounts of acid reflux into the esophagus. Some even experience a bitter or sour taste in the back of the throat. All of us have occasional heartburn. However, frequent heartburn (two or more times per week), difficulty swallowing, and blood in the stools or weight loss may be associated with a more severe problem.

Treatment for heartburn can start with lifestyle modifications. Avoiding foods and beverages (specifically chocolate, coffee, peppermint, greasy, spicy foods, tomato products and alcoholic beverages) that can cause heartburn is recommended. Smoking and being overweight can also increase heartburn. Therefore smoking cessation and weight loss are recommended if appropriate. Lying down within 2-3 hours of eating is also not recommended. There are various over-the-counter and prescription medications available to treat heartburn. Be sure to ask your doctor about these treatments.

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