Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
When stomach acid backs up into your esophagus — a condition called acid reflux — you may feel aburning pain in the middle of your chest. It often occurs after meals or at night, says Neville Bamji, MD, a clinical instructor of medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital and a gastroenterologist with New York Gastroenterology Associates.
While it’s common for people to experience acid reflux and heartburn once in a while, having symptoms that affect your daily life or occur at least twice each week could be a sign of GERD, a chronic digestive disease that affects 20 percent of Americans, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). If you experience persistent heartburn, bad breath, tooth erosion, nausea, pain in your chest or upper part of your abdomen, or have trouble swallowing or breathing, see your doctor.
Most people find relief by avoiding the foods and beverages that trigger their symptoms and/or by taking over-the-counter antacids or other medications that reduce stomach acid production and inflammation of the esophagus; however, some cases of GERD require stronger treatment, such as medication or surgery.