KARACHI- Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest, just behind the sternum and it occurs due to the reflux of acidic contents from stomach into the food pipe (esophagus).
Moreover, it is a common medical disorder and affects about 25 per cent of the population worldwide.
These views were expressed by experts at a seminar on “Heartburn – A Global Perspective” held to mark World Digestive Health Day 2015 at Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT).
Organised in collaboration with World Gastroenterology Organization (WGO), the seminar was addressed, among others, by Prof Anwar Naqvi, Dr Zaigham Abbas, Dr Rajesh Mandhwani, Dr Manzoor Siddiqui, Dr Muhammad Ali Khalid, Dr Amir Bakhsh, Dr Ghulamullah Lail and Dr Ghous Bux Soomro.
Underscoring the need for creating awareness about the causes and complications of heartburn, the experts, quoting previous research, said that about 24pc of the population is suffering from heartburn.
They stressed upon avoiding smoking, acid enhancing beverages, citrus fruits and spicy foods. It was also advised to avoid large meals and not to lie down at least two hours after meals. Some patients who are unresponsive to these lifestyle changes require medical therapy, however endoscopic or surgical options which can also be employed in certain complications.
Highlighting the general complications of long-term untreated heartburn, experts said that it can cause inflammation of the esophagus, esophageal ulcer/narrowing and Barrett’s esophagus which can lead to cancer of esophagus.
Describing heartburn in children, they said children usually present differently from adults with regurgitation recurrent vomiting, recurrent chest infection, wheezing and failure to grow. Apart from above mentioned complications in children, extra-esophageal complications are slightly more common such as bronchial asthma, recurrent aspiration pneumonia, recurrent ear and throat infection while treatment options are similar to adults, they added.