Heartburn symptoms are all too familiar for a lot of people because this condition is all too common. Heartburn is the burning sensation an individual experiences in the chest as a result of acid reflux usually experienced when lying down after eating. Knowing the symptoms of heartburn can lead to earlier treatment and the prevention of more serious health conditions. Heartburn is not a disorder by itself but could be a symptom of another digestive disorder like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Individuals have different heartburn triggers however, most have similar heartburn symptoms.
Common Heartburn Symptoms
Burning feeling in the chest – the sensation usually starts behind the breastbone and travels up to the throat in most cases. This often occurs shortly after eating and can go on from a few minutes to several hours.
Burning feeling in the throat – the burning sensation is usually high up in the neck but could occur lower. This is usually a result of irritation when the contents of the stomach reflux up the throat. The pain may worsen as you swallow.
Difficulty swallowing – this is also called dysphagia and this happens when the food does not travel smoothly from the mouth to the esophagus to the stomach. Dysphagia brings about a feeling of chocking, of food sticking to the throat or chest pressure or “burning” after eating. This symptom should always be evaluated by a doctor as it could be a sign of various things including esophageal cancer and erosive esophagitis.
Wheezing or other asthma related symptoms – some studies show a link between asthma and GERD. GERD can affect asthma when acids from the stomach reflux into the esophagus and becomes aspirated into the lungs and airways making breathing difficult and causing the person to wheeze and cough.
Chronic coughing – as one of the more common heartburn symptoms, experts say that heartburn and acid reflux disease account for 41% of cases of chronic cough in patients who do not smoke. Acid refluxing into the esophagus and getting aspirated lead to coughing.
Bitter taste in the mouth – when stomach contents reflux up into the esophagus and reach the back of the throat, the result is a sour taste in the mouth.
Heartburn Symptoms vs. Heart Attack Symptoms
A lot of people confuse heartburn symptoms to that of a heart attack resulting to unnecessary hospital visits. There are actually primary differences between the two which are well worth it to know and understand.
Heart attack is the result of a heart receiving insufficient oxygen or a condition called ischemic heart. The result of this condition is a burning pain, the type of pain felt when muscles are overly tired, accompanied by a squeezing sensation or angina. Angina often spreads through the arms, shoulders, neck and jaw but sometimes the pain is only concentrated in the shoulders and arms with no chest pains. Frequently, pain is worse in the left shoulder and arm.
Heartburn symptoms on the other hand are comparatively mild and usually constrained to the chest and don’t produce a squeezing type of pain. Heartburn symptoms may keep you up at night but otherwise won’t make you feel uneasy. Heartburn remedies will reduce the symptoms of heartburn significantly whereas they will not be able to ease symptoms of ischemia. If in doubt, call emergency medical services to be sure. Getting embarrassed for confusing heartburn with a heart attack is better than going untreated for angina.