Heartburn is one of the most common ailments people (especially those who eat too many spicy foods) face. And while many of us are familiar with the symptoms, the question arises: what is a heartburn?
Some people mistake heartburn for a heart attack and don’t seek medical attention. To make matters more confusing, heartburn with chest pain is not unknown.
So, this blog will discuss what heartburn is, how to recognize the symptoms and some natural and drug-based remedies for heartburn.
What Is a Heartburn?
Heartburn or acid reflux is a painful, burning sensation in the chest or throat. It can be the result of indigestion or acid reflux, and it’s one of the most common digestive complaints.
It’s an uncomfortable condition that can have a negative impact on the quality of one’s life. Many people experience heartburn occasionally; however, persistent episodes should be discussed with a doctor to ensure there are no underlying causes.
Chronic heartburn is referred to as GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). Around 20–30% of the Indian population suffers from symptoms of GERD.
What Are the Symptoms of Heartburn?
Heartburn can be a very uncomfortable and painful experience. Knowing the symptoms of heartburn is important to take preventative measures or seek medical treatment as needed.
- The most common symptom of heartburn is pain or discomfort in the chest area that usually occurs after eating large meals or lying down after a meal. This pain may be accompanied by burning sensations in the throat and stomach.
- Other symptoms include regurgitation of food, difficulty swallowing, bloating, burping, nausea, and vomiting. The condition may even cause damage to your oesophagus if left untreated for long periods of time.
- Some may experience a sour taste in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, and coughing up acidic fluid.
What Causes Heartburn?
Heartburn often occurs after eating certain foods or when lying down or bending over. It’s caused by the irritation of the oesophagus when stomach acid comes into contact with it.
- Gastric acids rise into the oesophagus because of an abnormal relaxation of the valve between them.
- Overeating and consuming spicy or acidic foods.
- Eating too quickly, drinking alcohol, and smoking can also increase the risk of heartburn.
- Stress can also cause the stomach to produce more acid than usual, leading to symptoms such as chest pain and nausea.
- If you don’t eat for longer than three to four hours, stomach acid builds up rather than being used for digestion, which can cause heartburn.
- Pregnancy and certain medicines can increase the risk of developing heartburn.
What Is Heartburn With Chest Pain?
Heartburn with chest pain comprises the following symptoms:
- A sharp, burning sensation is felt just below your breastbone or ribs.
- Your mouth tastes acidic, you regurgitate food, or your throat hurts.
- In most cases, the pain is confined to the ribs and does not spread to the shoulders, neck, or arms.
Despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart; the location of the pain is what makes people believe they are having chest pains related to the heart.
How to Recognize Chest Pain?
Chest pain can be classified into three categories: digestion related, respiration-related, and heart-related.
Since heartburn is often mistaken for heart-related issues, let’s find out how to recognize chest pain.
- If you suddenly feel pressure under your breastbone, seek immediate medical attention. This pressure can be described as a squeezing, tightness, or crushing sensation.
- Chest pain usually spreads to your jaw, left arm, or back and is almost always accompanied by shortness of breath.
How To Prevent Heartburn?
As unpleasant as they may be, heartburn can be easily avoided with some lifestyle changes. Follow these simple steps to prevent future bouts of heartburn pain:
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of large meals.
- Avoiding triggers such as spicy dishes, caffeine, and alcohol can help reduce symptoms.
- Avoid lying down immediately after eating.
- Maintain a healthy weight and wear loose-fitting clothing to reduce pressure on the stomach area.
How To Treat Heartburn?
Heartburn can be a painful and disruptive condition, but fortunately, there are natural remedies available to help alleviate the symptoms.
- The use of antacids can provide quick relief, while H2 blockers can slow down the production of stomach acid.
- Natural treatments for heartburn include ginger root and peppermint oil, which have anti-inflammatory properties and provide relief from indigestion.
- Probiotic-rich foods, such as yoghurt, may also boost digestion by introducing beneficial bacteria to your gut.
What Food Should You Avoid To Prevent Heartburn?
As a general rule, all types of deep-fried and fast food, like fried chicken and pizza, tend to cause heartburn if not consumed in moderation. Spicy foods made with chilli powder and pepper can irritate the stomach lining, and so can most processed snacks.
Coffee, cheese, and aerated drinks are known to trigger heartburn. You should avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, not only to prevent heartburn but also to improve your overall health.
Where Can I Get Quality Treatment for Heartburn and Chest Pain?
If you get frequent heartburn, you had best get yourself examined because getting a clean bill of health from a reputed health organization can do wonders for your well-being.
If you live in Bangalore, visit Ayu Health’s NABH-accredited diagnostic centres at multiple locations across the city. Other cities they serve are Chandigarh, Jaipur, NCR, and Hyderabad.
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About the Author
Dr. Magesh Balakrishnan
He has 16 years of experience in this field. He has excellent skills in performing all cardiac diagnostic procedures/ tests. He has performed emergency and elective angiographies and angioplasties, device implantation (Pacemaker, AICD & CRT)