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a burning sensation in the esophagus, or below the sternum in the region of the heart, one of the common symptoms of indigestion. Called also pyrosis.

Heartburn often occurs when there is distention of a part of the esophagus, particularly the lower part. This may happen with gastroesophageal reflux (regurgitation by the stomach of part of its contents upward into the esophagus). Since this matter is acidic, it acts as an irritant, producing discomfort or pain.

Excessive acidity (hyperacidity) is thought to be a cause of heartburn, occurring when the stomach secretes an excessive amount of hydrochloric acid. Recent evidence, however, indicates that hyperacidity in itself may not be the actual cause, and that heartburn results from excessive gastric secretions only when there is improper eating so that reflux takes place.

The functions of the stomach, both those of motion and secretion, are controlled by the vagus nerve, one of the cranial nerves. Emotional stress can stimulate this nerve, which in turn starts the churning of the stomach and the flow of the various gastric juices; it can also cause contraction and spasm of the pylorus. If some of the stomach contents are displaced into the esophagus during this nervous activity, heartburn may result. Other causes include gastroesophageal reflux accompanying hiatal hernia, stooping or bending after a large meal, and the ingestion of certain foods and drugs, such as alcohol and aspirin.

Treatment of heartburn is aimed at determining its underlying cause. Antacids may be used to relieve the symptoms but they will not cure heartburn and should not be used indiscriminately. Antacid therapy is the key maneuver along with instituting small meal size and elevation of the head of the bed to prevent reflux.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


Substernal pain or burning sensation, usually associated with regurgitation of acid-peptic gastric juice into the esophagus.
Synonym(s): heartburn
[G. a burning]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


A substernal pain or burning sensation, usually associated with regurgitation of acid and peptic gastric juice into the esophagus.
Synonym(s): heartburn.
[G. a burning]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005


Substernal pain or burning sensation, usually associated with regurgitation of acid-peptic gastric juice into the esophagus.
[G. a burning]
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012

Patient discussion about pyrosis

Q. is there any new medicines or surgeries for heartburn

A. in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the problem is usually in the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach. from some reason it stops working properly and acid from the stomach goes up and cause pain. there is a surgery , here is some info about it-

but i recommend trying the methods Maryam gave you and if it won't help - ask the Dr. for his advise.

Q. Stomach ulcer or bad heartburn? hi. i am not sure if this is just heartburn or maybe i have an ulcer. for the last 7 months i have been getting really severe pains in my stomach (between my chest and my belly button). my upper back gets sharp pains and my stomach bloats out like I’m 8 months pregnant!!!. i have tried to take antacids for this but nothing works. i don’t know what else to do. it scares me sometimes because i have no idea what it is. My mom thinks it could be an ulcer. the pain lasts for a good 4 to 5 hours and i cant even sit down because the pain hurts so bad. can anyone tell me what this might be?????

A. After 7 months with an ulcer you’d be vomiting blood and may have blood in your feces. Anti acid would have helped. So what you say doesn’t sound anything like it. I think a good idea will be going the next morning to see a Dr. – looking for a diagnosis on the web is not a very good idea. And even if you know for certain that you have an ulcer- it is curable. Why wait 7 months?

Q. How to get rid of a heart burn? Help! I have constant heart burn, how to make it go away?

A. I take Prilosec as I get near daily heartburn, works wonders.

More discussions about pyrosis
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References in periodicals archive ?
An alternative and perhaps more plausible explanation of the refractory symptoms of primarily pyrosis in this patient could be eosinophilic esophagitis (EO), that is, an immune system disease that is characterised by persistent heartburn, upper abdominal pain, and regurgitation refractory to medication, for example, proton pump inhibitors and antacids [10].
pylori antibody positive diabetic patients were pyrosis (58.4%), nausea (39.3%) and pain in epigastrium (24.5%).
Pylori Pylori antibodies antibodies positive negative Total % Total % 1 Pain epigastrium 22/89 24.5 1/12 8.3 NS n=23 2 Tenderness 2/89 2.2 -- 12 NS epigastrium n=2 3 Nausea n=40 35/89 39.3 5/12 41.7 NS 4 Vomiting n=15 14/89 15.7 1/12 8.3 NS 5 Pyrosis n=58 52/89 58.4 6/12 50 NS 6 Post prandial 10/89 11.2 3/12 25 NS abdominal fullness n=13 7 Early satiety n=6 5/89 5.6 1/12 8.3 NS 8 Belching n=17 16/89 18 1/12 8.3 NS 9 Recurrent 2/89 2.2 -- 12 NS diarrhoea n=2 * S/NS: Significant/Non-significant TABLE 4: Comparison between Drug Therapies and anti-H.
Heartburn (pyrosis) is the chief symptom seen in patients with GERD.
For reflux esophagitis, the diagnostic criteria were chest pain (substernal or subxiphoid); pain that radiated to the jaw, the back, or into the epigastric area; pain that was described as burning (heartburn) in quality, with or without a sour or burning substance in the mouth (pyrosis); pain that worsened with stooping or recumbency; pain that awoke the patient at night; pain that lasted for hours; and pain that was relieved with antacids.
His medical history included intermittent pyrosis and seasonal allergies.
A 51-year-old man presented to the Scripps Center for Voice and Swallowing with chief complaints of chronic cough, pyrosis, and odynophagia.
A 48-year-old woman presented to the Scripps Center for Voice and Swallowing with complaints of pyrosis, dysphagia, excessive throat clearing, nocturnal cough, and intermittent dysphonia.