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You are a nurse screening a patient who has been complaining of heartburn. Heartburn is...

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ninaesl | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted May 18, 2013 at 8:29 PM via web

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You are a nurse screening a patient who has been complaining of heartburn. Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest, caused by back flow from the stomach. Based on what you know about digestive system structure and function, list two possible organs (other than stomach) that could be affected by this condition and why they are affected.

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ncchemist | eNotes Employee

Posted May 18, 2013 at 11:01 PM (Answer #1)

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Heartburn is also called acid indigestion.  It actually has nothing to do with the heart, it is simply called that because the pain is in the upper abdomen in the general chest area.  The gastric juices in the stomach are highly acidic to help break down and digest food.  Normally, this gastric juice stays in the stomach where the lining is designed to withstand the acidity.  But if the acidic gastric juice backflows up the esophagus into the throat, it will leave a burning sensation in those sensitive tissues.  So one of the other organs affected is definitely the esophagus since the acid makes direct contact with it.  Another organ possibly affected are the lungs.  If the gastric juice or its vapors escape into the bronchi, then the lung passages will be irritated as well.  Heartburn can generally be treated with basic medication to help minimize the acid.  Only in a very small number of cases is heartburn an indication of any kind of problem with the heart.

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