Heartburn is a condition where the acidic stomach contents back up into the esophagus causing pain in the chest area. This reflux usually occurs because the sphincter muscle between the esophagus and stomach is weakened. Standing or sitting after a meal can help reduce the reflux which causes heartburn. Continuous irritation of the esophagus lining as in gastroesophageal reflux disease is a risk factor for the development of adenocarcinoma.
Review Date 7/1/2021
Updated by: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.