Heartburn has its other alternative names as
- Non-cardiac chest pain or
Heartburn & GERD | What Does Heartburn Feel Like? | Symptoms
What Is Heartburn?
Heartburn is a burning sensation occurring in the chest. It usually happens when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus (or food pipe). This burning is experienced mainly at the central & upper chest part, behind the sternum (breastbone). The burning sensation worsens when a person lies on his or her right side or lies down flat. To put it in simple terms, heartburn occurs when the stomach acid flows back into the food pipe.
Many people have heartburn and it is a very common health condition. It isn’t that dangerous as it sounds to be. There are many OTC (Over-The-Counter) medications & natural remedies to treat the heartburn symptoms. Since it isn’t dangerous, you don’t have to consult a healthcare pro unless the signs become frequent or severe. Heartburn can be easily relieved through few lifestyle and diet changes. Though this is rare, some may need medications or surgery.
NOTE: Immediately seek medical advice if you happen to suffer heartburn
- Over once in a week or
- It is accompanied with breath shortness and radiation on neck/arms
What Is GERD?
GERD is abbreviated as “Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease“, in which:
- Gastroesophageal means stomach & esophagus
- Reflux refers to return or flow back.
Therefore, Gastroesophageal Reflux literally means return of stomach’s contents back to esophagus.
GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is a very serious and chronic form of heartburn. During normal digestion, LES or Lower Esophageal Sphincter opens so that it allows foods to pass through the stomach & closes in order to keep off foods & stomach acid from flowing backwards to esophagus (or food pipe). Gastroesophageal reflux usually occurs when one’s LES is very weak or doesn’t relaxes appropriately. Thus, allowing stomach contents to go up in the esophagus. GERD’s severity depends completely on LES dysfunctions, type, quantity of fluids brought upwards from stomach. In addition, saliva’s neutralizing effect can be another determining factor.
By definition, GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is a commonly occurring digestive disorder, which affects LES or Lower Esophageal Sphincter(muscle ring between esophagus & stomach). So, it is same like heartburn but the difference is that, it is severe. In short, GERD is an unpleasant, burning and painful feeling that occurs just behind or below your breastbone. Usually, it comes from esophagus. Now, this pain frequently rises in chest & might even spread to throat or neck. Pregnant women mostly suffer from acid indigestion or heartburn caused by Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD. According to American College of Gastroenterology, about 15-milllion Americans suffer heartburn or GERD every day.
What Does Heartburn Feel Like?[box type=”success”] As said earlier, heartburn occurs when stomach acid gets into the esophagus. The kind of feeling one experiences, varies. However, the symptoms are common overall. Heartburn is a very discomfort and unpleasant feeling. You feel as if a strong burning acid is coming up to your throat. You feel as if your throat is burning. There is a sour, acidic, salty and hot tasting liquid at the throat’s back. Sometimes, you even experience its taste in your mouth, which can last from few minutes to even hours. You will be shocked to also read this that there are people who even suffer heartburn for weeks and months. [/box]
I hope you have understood what heartburn is all about. Now, coming back to your question what does heartburn feel like, let me tell you that it is a very discomfort and unpleasant feeling. I will explain the answers through points so that you will know clearly[starlist]
- Heartburn, as the name implies is a burning sensation that occurs in a person’s chest, which is just behind breastbone
- This unpleasant burning sensation has the ability to even radiate upwards to neck & throat
- This pressure or pain feeling behind breastbone usually occurs after you eat & may also last for 2 hours
- The person may also suffer a pain in the chest while lying down, bending over or immediately after eating
- The burning feel in the person’s throat is often accompanied by sour, acidic, bitter lasting or hot fluid. It is like as if the food is coming back to your mouth. You may also feel as if the food is still sticking in your throat or chest
- You will have difficulties while swallowing
- There is a feeling of food being “stuck” at the middle of chest / throat
- Heartburn can also cause sore throat, chronic hoarseness and chronic cough
What Are the Symptoms of Heartburn?
1. Chest pain
Heartburn is usually accompanied with chest pain. It occurs when stomach acid splashes into esophagus. This is the classic heartburn or acid reflux sign. This pain in the chest is often misunderstood as heart attack. However, it is not. Heart attack is severe and is completely a different term. However, the pain of heartburn lasts longer and can be little intense.
2. Bitter Taste
At times, the acid trying to escape from stomach makes its way back to the throat and leaves a bitter, icky taste inside the mouth. In extreme cases, it may cause choking. In case, it happens — particularly at night — meet a doctor.
3. Pain While Resting
One of the most common heartburn symptoms is none other than pain. The stomach acid, which is supposed to remain inside will likely escape into the esophagus after you bend over or lie down. This in turn causes pain and a sensation that is more burning. If you sit straight, gravity keeps the food in stomach but if you happen to lose it, you are prone to acid reflux. This is exactly why people suffering from chronic heartburn never raise their head from bed. They never have big meals before their bedtime as well.
4. Sore Throat
Sore throat is yet another typical cold / flu symptom, which may be due to digestive problems. In case, your throat aches only after the meals, you might have heartburn. However, with cold or flu, the sore throat type can be chronic. Now, if you do not develop other signs like sneezing or sniffling, then consider heartburn.
One may think that he or she is in early cold stages when voice begins cracking. However, hoarseness is another symptom of heartburn. If the stomach acid seeps in your esophagus (or food pipe), it can even irritate the vocal cords. Pay attention when the voice sounds little husky. On the other hand, if this husky voice happens to be right after your meal, you might have reflux.
6. More Saliva
In case, the mouth suddenly begins producing more saliva, then it can be the so-called water brash. This is extremely suggestive of heartburn. It involves same nerves & reflex when one vomits. The body is trying to clean irritants in the esophagus.
Many respiratory symptoms like wheezing and chronic cough can be because of heartburn. This happens when stomach acid gets into the lungs. Suppose, you suspect that your heartburn condition is the root cause for breathing difficulties or possibly occurs after eating, then consider consulting a doctor to have your pH test done. This test measures the acid amount in the esophagus and determines if you suffer heartburn or not.
Yet another major heartburn symptom is none other than nausea. But the kind of nausea one suffers from may be little hard to exactly say if it is of heartburn’s. In some patients, the only sign of heartburn can be nausea while others may have a different one. If you suffer nausea & cannot figure out exactly as to why it is happening then think of reflux. Moreover, if nausea happens to come after meals, then it is more evident that it is from acid reflux. Have it checked and if it is a yes, regular antacid treatments could cut the discomfort down.
9. Trouble While Swallowing
As time passes, constant cycle of damaging and healing after heartburn causes scarring. In turn, this causes swelling of lower-esophagus tissues, resulting in esophagus narrowing and difficulty while swallowing.[box type = “success”]
Note: The common heartburn symptom is burning sensation in chest. This is often accompanied with sour taste or feeling as if food is been stuck inside the throat. But if your heartburn symptoms come with breath shortness, radiation in neck or arms, cold sweat or dizziness, then the you require immediate evaluation from a healthcare professional. [/box]