Heartburn is that burning feeling in the upper part of your stomach or lower chest that rises towards the throat and often happens after you have eaten a big meal or spicy foods.

There is a valve that normally stops the contents of the stomach from backing up into the esophagus, the tube that brings food from the mouth to the stomach. Heartburn occurs when the valve doesn't work properly and stomach contents back up into the esophagus. This is called reflux.

If you have heartburn, you may experience the following:

  • a burning sensation or discomfort in the upper part of your stomach or lower chest
  • a bloated feeling
  • burping more often than usual
  • more gas in the stomach than usual, resulting in passing of gas
  • feeling full at meals more quickly than usual
  • a sour or bitter taste
  • a feeling of nausea

The symptoms of discomfort are often worse after meals, or if you bend over or lie down. The symptoms can last from several minutes to 2 hours or longer. Some people may also have a chronic cough, trouble sleeping, wheezing, or choking episodes.

If you experience other symptoms in addition to heartburn, such as chest pain, abdominal pain, wheezing, tightness in the throat, or trouble swallowing, you should see your doctor, as this may indicate a more serious problem.