What does Heartburn Feel Like?
Heartburn is a symptom of something going wrong inside your chest. Most of the time it is not a big deal. You don’t want to call 911 and end up in an emergency room just to get antacids. To help you distinguish between when it is something serious and when not, this article about the symptoms of heartburn can go a long way in “diagnosing” what you may consider to be heartburn
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What is heartburn? In medical terms, it is a gastroesophageal reflux, also called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). In simple words, it is a reflux going through your esophagus, which is the tube connecting your stomach and your throat. The reflux occurs when your stomach has excessive acid which it sends back through the esophagus. Under normal conditions the stomach has a valve which prevents anything going back up the esophagus to your throat. This valve is known as the lower esophageal sphincter, LES in short. Reflux happens when the lower esophageal sphincter is not strong enough to hold back acids.
Is GERD something I should worry about?
Heartburn experienced occasionally is usually linked to something you ate like spicy food. Constant heartburn means the digestive disorder GERD should be treated in order to strengthen the valve LES (lower esophageal sphincter). GERD is not life threatening; it could however get worse and result in you throwing up your meals. That in the long term can be serious. GERD can be diagnosed by a medical practitioner by measuring the acid content in the esophagus over a 24 hour period. The device used for these tests is known as an ambulatory acid probe; it is able to pinpoint how long and when exactly the acid from your stomach rushes back into the esophagus.
What are the symptoms of heartburn?
For me personally is the vile taste in your throat when heartburn occurs. The taste can last for just a few minutes or several hours. The most common symptoms associated with heartburn are:
- Throat burning.
- A rare taste at the back of the throat. It can be hot, acid, sour or at times salty.
- To feel food stuck in the middle of your throat.
- Swallowing troubles.
- Coughs, hoarseness or a sore throat. This occurs when heartburn is frequent.
All these symptoms are related to heartburn. Severe heartburn can cause chest pains, in some cases however, chest pain can be caused by a more serious condition, like a heart attack. Should you experience chest pain when you bend or eat, call 911. It is better to get antacids in the emergency room than die on your floor because you assumed it was just heartburn.
What kind of Heartburn can get me to the Emergency Room?
Severe heartburn can be confused with a heart attack; not even doctors can know straightaway whether it is just a severe attack of heartburn or a heart attack. Further tests need to be conducted to find out where the pain is coming from.
Heartburn is more common in overweight and older people, so is heart attacks. The most severe symptoms of heartburn, which are similar to a heart attack include:
- A very sharp, burning feeling below the ribs.
- Severe pain in the chest. It can at times radiate to the neck, shoulders, neck, or arms, but it is not common.
- In rare cases, the symptoms come with a cold sweat.
Heartburn typically occurs shortly after meals, especially when you exercise or just lie on your back. Anxiety is another common trigger for heartburn as well as for heart attacks. To assist you in distinguishing between heartburn and a heart attack, these are the typical symptoms of heart attacks:
- A sharp pain or pressure-like feeling right at the center of your chest.
- This intense pain usually radiates to the neck, shoulders, neck, arms, or jaw.
- A tight feeling in your chest as if a belt was around it making an intense
- The chest pain is sudden, and it gets worse over time.
- Palpitations, dizziness, and lightheadedness.
- Shortness of breath.
- Cold sweat is common.
The pain of a heart attack will quickly go away with nitroglycerin, but you can only get it in a hospital. If you get a heartburn feeling with any of these sensations, call 911 immediately, or your trusted doctor. The most common questions to identify if it is a heart attack or not are:
- Are you sweating?
- Do you feel strong palpitations?
- Can you breathe normally?
If you find an affirmative answer to any of these questions, run to the emergency room. It is important to take note of the time the symptoms started to tell the doctor during further examinations.
How to get rid of heartburn
Even intense heartburn will quickly respond to antacids. Avoiding big meals and foods that cause heartburn like those prepared with lots of spices is naturally recommended if you get heartburn often.
Heavy lifting can also cause heartburn, especially when the person does not exercise regularly. Change/get rid of your bad habits by starting to exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
Overweight people are generally affected by heartburn, and so are almost all pregnant women. At least for pregnant women it is a temporary situation. If you are overweight, it is advisable to consult a nutritionist who can assist with a healthy eat plan which will improve your health and lower heartburn and other risks associated with obesity. Heartburn during pregnancy can be limited, or even be avoided when the pregnant woman take great care of what she eats. Her condition is related to hormones, which are produced at a faster pace during pregnancy. Once she gives birth, her body will go back to normal, and heartburn should stop.
Cigars are also a trigger of heartburn. When you notice the heartburn sensation right after or while you are smoking, that is the cause. Try to quit smoking, but in the case you are addicted to nicotine, the use of nicotine patches will eliminate heartburn sensations.
Typical meals producing heartburn are carbonated beverages, chocolate, coffee, peppermint, fried and spicy foods and citrus.
When to get medical treatment for heartburn
Your esophagus can be severely damaged if heartburn is continuous. Worst case scenario, it could bleed, which is serious. The condition is called Barrett’s esophagus, and it occurs when the cells in the esophagus wall become abnormal. The Barrett’s esophagus disease can eventually lead to cancer. So, don’t wait until it is too late, and get medical attention. It doesn’t have to be the emergency room. You can get an appointment with your regular doctor.