Heartburn is a rising, burning
sensation behind the chest caused by reflux of
stomach acid into the oesophagus. Nearly everyone
has or will experience heartburn on occasion.
Heartburn is the most common symptom of gastro
(stomach)-oesophageal (gullet) reflux disease (GORD).
Frequent heartburn that disrupts one's lifestyle
suggests the diagnosis of GORD.
Severe, long-standing GORD can damage
the oesophagus and cause a condition known as
Barrett's oesophagus wherein the normal lining of
the oesophagus is replaced by a lining more like
that of the stomach or intestine. The risk of
oesophageal cancer appears to increase significantly
in patients with Barrett's oesophagus. The only way
to diagnose Barrett's oesophagus is by endoscopy.