Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Overview of Heartburn
- Heartburn Causes
- Heartburn Symptoms
- Heartburn Diagnosis
- Heartburn Treatment
- Heartburn Summary
Heartburn is a common complaint, though it can be confused with other chest-related illnesses, including:
The diagnosis begins with a complete history and physical examination. In many cases that is all that needs to be done before beginning a treatment plan. In some instances, further testing may be required:
X-ray: The patient may be asked to swallow barium or Gastrografin (two types of contrast materials) while a radiologist watches the contrast material travel down the esophagus into the stomach using an x-ray or fluoroscopy machine. Aside from looking for irregularities or inflammation in the esophagus, this test can determine if the esophagus muscles are working properly in a rhythmic fashion to push the contrast material into the stomach.
Endoscopy: In this test a gastroenterologist uses a flexible scope and camera to look at the lining of the esophagus and stomach. Inflammation and ulcers can be identified. As well, biopsies can be obtained to look for cancerous or pre-cancerous cells.
Manometry and pH testing: Less commonly, when conventional therapy has failed or when symptoms are atypical, use of pressure monitors and acid measurements from within the esophagus may be helpful in making the diagnosis.
Next: Heartburn Treatment
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