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Curr Treat Options Gastroenterol. 2005 Aug;8(4):285-91.

Functional heartburn.

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GI Section (1-111G-1), Southern Arizona VA Health Care System, 3601 South 6th Avenue, Tucson, Arizona 85723-0001, USA.


Functional heartburn (FH) is a common disorder that accounts for 30% to 50% of the patients with nonerosive reflux disease. FH is composed from a heterogeneous group of patients. They primarily include the hypersensitive and the nonacid sensitive esophagus. The mechanisms responsible for pain, clinical characteristics, and the optimal therapeutic approach of FH remain to be fully elucidated. Symptom response rate to potent antireflux treatment is significantly lower in FH patients as compared with any other gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) group, suggesting that in proton pump inhibitor (PPI) non-responders mechanisms other than acid reflux are likely the cause of symptoms. Patients with FH should be approached therapeutically as patients with GERD and should initially receive antireflux medications. Due to the need for profound acid suppression in this group of patients, PPIs should be considered relatively early in their care. Failure to respond to standard dosage of PPI is common and will require doubling the dose. If patients continue to report heartburn symptoms while receiving PPI twice daily, adding or switching to pain modulators/visceral analgesics is an appropriate therapeutic approach. Data about the usage of other therapeutic modalities in FH such as antireflux surgery, endoscopic treatment for GERD, and psychotherapy are still unavailable. Emerging treatment will likely include novel pain modulators and more effective antireflux medications.


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