Heartburn - a burning sensation in the chest that can extend to the neck, throat, and face.
It is the primary symptom of gastroesophageal reflux, which is the movement of stomach acid into the esophagus.
On rare occasions, it is due to gastritis (stomach lining inflammation).
Common Heartburn Symptoms
- Burning feeling in the chest just behind the breastbone that occurs after eating and lasts a few minutes to several hours
- Chest pain, especially after bending over, lying down or eating
- Burning in the throat
- Hot, sour, acidic or salty-tasting fluid at the back of the throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feeling of food "sticking" in the middle of the chest or throat
- Chronic cough
- Sore throat
- Chronic hoarseness
Other Illnesses with Similar Symptoms
Heartburn is the symptom of acid reflux and GERD. However, not everyone with acid reflux has heartburn and not everyone with heartburn
has acid reflux.
The symptom of heartburn can also be caused by other unusual things such as intestinal motility problems.
Cardiac problems can also mimic heartburn and you should not confuse the two. Unexplained chest pain should be evaluated by an exercise
stress test or EKG prior to an evaluation for gastrointestinal problems.
Is It Heartburn or a Heart Problem?
Chest pains are usually interpreted as symptoms of a heart attack while it is often just symptoms of severe heartburn.
Possible signs of heartburn that could be mistaken for a heart attack:
- Sharp, burning sensation just below the breastbone or ribs
- Pain usually does not radiate to the shoulders, neck, or arms, but it is possible
- Pain typically comes after meals, when lying on the back, exercising or experiencing anxiety.
- Symptoms respond quickly to antacids
- Rarely accompanied by a cold sweat
Possible signs of angina (severe pain in chest area) or heart attack:
Note: pain that lasts for more than a few minutes or any warning signs of a heart attack, seek immediate medical attention.
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
- Feeling of fullness, tightness, dull pressure or pain in the center of the chest
- Feeling of tightened around your chest
- Sudden chest pain or pressure that worsens
- Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck, jaw or arms
- Pain often responds quickly to drugs like nitroglycerin