Difference between Heartburn and Indigestion

Key Difference: Heartburn is a condition in which a person experiences a burning sensation or pain in the chest or just behind the breastbone. This burning sensation is caused by acid reflux or when the digestive acid flows up into the esophagus. Indigestion is scientifically known as Dyspepsia, a condition where a person feels discomfort or has a feeling of fullness following eating. Indigestion is caused when the stomach acid comes into contact with the mucosa that lines the stomach to protect it from the acid. The stomach acids break down the lining, causing the stomach acid to irritate and inflame the stomach.

Heartburn and indigestion are two conditions that are very similar in nature and often confusing for many people to tell apart. Heartburn is actually one of the side effects of indigestion. Heartburn is when there is a burning feeling or pain in the stomach caused by the stomach acid that enters the esophagus. Indigestion is a condition where the mucosal lining of the stomach breaks down causing the acid to irritate the lining.

Heartburn is a condition in which a person experiences a burning sensation or pain in the chest or just behind the breastbone. This burning sensation is caused by acid reflux or when the digestive acid flows up into the esophagus. The acid irritates the esophagus lining causing irritation and uneasiness to the person. Heartburn is also known as pyrosis, cardialgia, or acid indigestion. When a person eats food, the stomach is similar to a one way valve, which opens when food is supposed to go into the stomach. This valve keeps the stomach acid from flowing upwards and irritating the other organs. However, certain foods, medications, nicotine or lying down too quickly after a meal and excess weight, can cause the muscle that acts a blocking valve to relax. The relaxation causes the valve to open and allows the digestive acid to flow upward, causing heartburn.

Heartburn is common and can occur as frequently has once a week for some people. However, any more than one per week can point to a much serious disease known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD is a chronic disease where acid constantly flow from the stomach to the lower esophagus, thus burning the esophagus. Long-term GERD can result in Barrett's esophagus. Barrett's esophagus is a condition where the color and composition of the esophagus change due to constant exposure to digestive acid. Barrett’s can in-turn cause esophageal cancer. Heartburn can also be caused by other conditions such as inflamed stomach lining, peptic ulcer or a hiatal hernia.

Symptoms of heartburn include: burning feeling (in the chest or behind the breast bone), chest pain, burning in the throat, hot-sour or acidic taste in the back of the throat, difficulty swallowing, feeling of sickness or nausea, feeling of food sticking in the middle of chest or throat, coughing, sore throat, etc. Other rare symptoms include pain in the back, jaw, shoulders, neck or arms.

Indigestion is scientifically known as Dyspepsia, a condition where a person feels discomfort or has a feeling of fullness following eating. Dyspepsia causes chronic pain the upper and lower abdomen and feeling of fullness after just a few bites. Indigestion is caused when the stomach acid comes into contact with the mucosa that lines the stomach to protect it from the acid. The stomach acids break down the lining, causing the stomach acid to irritate and inflame the stomach. This is indigestion.

Dyspepsia is a common condition that happens to many people occasionally. However, consistent occurrence of indigestion can be signs of an underlining problem. Indigestion is also the first symptom of peptic ulcer disease.  Indigestion commonly occurs as a symptom of a disease such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers, or gallbladder disease, rather than manifest on its own. Dyspepsia can also be caused by certain foods, smoking, drinking, stress, fatigue and eating habits. Many people that have indigestion due to these reasons can often modify their eating habits and their diet to solve this problem.

Though dyspepsia is not a serious condition can be solved making certain changes, reoccurrence of the disease could mean trouble. It is best of often consult a doctor if any changes occur. Symptoms of dyspepsia include: Bloating, feeling of fullness, belching, gas, nausea, vomiting, acidic taste, growling stomach, burning sensation in the stomach or upper abdomen, abdominal pain and heartburn.

Image Courtesy: articles.washingtonpost.com, naturalremedies.org

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