Heartburn symptoms

Unsure what your heartburn symptoms have to do with acid reflux? Think of it like this: Acid reflux is the name for what happens when your stomach acid travels up to your esophagus, and heartburn is one of the symptoms you may experience as a result.

There is also a close connection between heartburn symptoms and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), as it is usually known, is a broad term applied to patients with symptoms suggestive of chronic heartburn and acid reflux that can sometimes impact quality of life.

GERD symptoms can vary from mild to severe. GERD can involve chronic acid reflux that damages your esophagus and requires stronger medication than acid reflux or heartburn.

Speak to your doctor if you suspect that you have GERD. Your doctor will prescribe the appropriate treatment for GERD.

Heartburn symptoms

Understanding heartburn and GERD symptoms

Is the pain or discomfort you have been feeling heartburn? If you are experiencing a burning in or behind your chest there’s a chance it could be. Heartburn, also known as pyrosis, is an uncomfortable burning sensation in the retrosternal area, which is the area located behind the breastbone in the chest.

Often a patient may describe it as, “a burning feeling rising from the stomach or lower chest which may rise up toward the throat.”

The pain may be worse when lying or bending down and occurs usually after eating, during periods of emotional stress, or at night, causing the individual to wake up.

It depends. The pain can last anywhere from minutes to hours. You might find that the pain sometimes stops spontaneously and other times you may need to take heartburn medication.

If you have heartburn, there are other symptoms you may be experiencing. Some of the more common symptoms people experience with heartburn can include:

  • Burning sensation
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Sour & acidic taste
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sensation of food stuck in your throat

Speak to your doctor if, you have difficulty swallowing, persistent nausea or difficulty eating.

Chronic heartburn

If you are suffering from heartburn more frequently, it is possible that you are experiencing Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD. This can be more severe than a case of heartburn and is a result of chronic acid reflux that has damaged your esophagus.

Symptoms associated with GERD can include:

  • Chronic cough
  • Persistent Sore Throat
  • Lump in Throat
  • Hoarseness or laryngitis
  • Dysphagia (painful swallowing)
  • Asthma-like symptoms (e.g. wheezing)

Speak to your doctor if you suspect that you have GERD. Your doctor will prescribe the appropriate treatment for GERD.

It’s normal to get heartburn from time to time. If you are suffering heartburn as frequently as three times or more per week and the symptoms last for a long time, you should talk to your doctor.  Also, speak to your doctor if symptoms persist despite the use of over-the-counter medications, you have difficulty swallowing, persistent nausea or vomiting, have weight loss because of poor appetite or difficulty eating.

If left untreated, chronic heartburn can cause permanent damage to your esophagus, so be sure to consult with your medical professional if you are experiencing any of these symptoms of chronic heartburn.

If you are concerned that your chest pains are not heartburn, but a heart attack, there are ways of distinguishing between the two. However, it may be difficult to know for certain. The pain may also resemble angina pectoris (i.e. chest pain or discomfort from coronary heart disease), and is typically described as squeezing or burning, located substernal (i.e. located below or behind the sternum or breastbone).

Often, medical tests are required to distinguish the difference. However, symptoms also associated with heartburn may be a pain after eating or lying down, pain starting in the abdomen before moving up to the chest, a sour taste in the mouth, and regurgitation of stomach acid.

If you are having a heart attack you may feel discomfort in the center or left side of the chest (it might feel like pressure, squeezing, or pain). You might also feel pain or discomfort in your arms, back, shoulder, neck, jaw or above the belly button. You may experience chest pain and shortness of breath.

You should immediately consult medical help (call 911) if you are experiencing pain behind the breastbone that’s not burning pain but feels more like tightness in the chest, or if you are not sure whether you are experiencing heartburn or a heart attack.

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SAUS.GLA.18.02.0753 December 2018