(CNN) – It’s considered a relatively minor gastrointestinal complaint, but if you’ve ever experienced heartburn, and most people have, you know how uncomfortable it can be.
Dr. Braden Kuo, a gastroenterologist at Boston’s Massachusetts general hospital, says heartburn is the result of stomach acid sneaking up into the esophagus. Something also known as acid reflux.
Certain foods can trigger heartburn because they can affect the sphincter that normally keeps stomach acid out of the throat. Peppermint, spicy foods, and oily foods all potentially have the reaction of loosening that barrier to some degree.
Other contributors to heartburn include being overweight, lying down after eating and not to mention, pregnancy. Untreated chronic heartburn can lead to complications, including: bleeding, difficulty swallowing, and, in extreme cases, cancer of the esophagus.
Heartburn usually goes away within a couple of hours, but if it becomes frequent, see your doctor.