Heartburn Symptoms: The 5 Signs of Heartburn
Heartburn is a common problem, with more than 60 million Americans suffering from it at least once a month.1 Generally characterized by a burning sensation in the chest, some describe heartburn as feeling like their insides are on fire. Heartburn can result in several symptoms, not just the characteristic burning feeling.2 Most heartburn symptoms become worse after eating but can usually be quickly managed by taking antacids such as TUMS.2
5 Heartburn Symptoms to Look For
Wondering what does heartburn feel like? Normally, heartburn can result in an uncomfortable sensation or pain in your chest behind the breastbone. Some sufferers experience it as a tightening feeling in the chest, while others describe it as a sharp pain. It may also radiate up towards the throat.3 This pain can last a matter of minutes to several hours4 and may get worse at night or when you lie down.3
Bloating, belching and heartburn after eating can be caused by consuming particularly fatty or oily foods. When it comes to drinks, carbonated or alcoholic beverages can lead to excess gas and bloating. Equally, wearing tight or restrictive clothing around your waistline may exacerbate the problem further, so it may be a good idea to wear loose clothing while eating.5 You should not try to relieve gas by belching, as this can make heartburn worse as it causes more acid to rise in your throat.6 Find out more about the causes of heartburn so you can identify your personal triggers.
As gastric acid from your stomach moves up your esophagus, it may create a burning feeling in your chest and throat. Stomach acid can also leave a nasty taste in your mouth – this may be sour, salty, hot or acidic. This acid irritation can lead to a sore throat and a dry cough. It can also cause a painless lump in your throat.
Some heartburn symptoms you experience can make you feel nauseous. Symptoms such as acid reflux, an unpleasant taste in your mouth, and hiccupping or belching can make you feel as if you are going to vomit.
Some people with heartburn may get recurrent hiccups.7 Some medications and certain foods or drinks can trigger hiccups. Changes to your body during pregnancy result in additional pressure on your digestive system, which increases the likelihood of acid reflux and hiccups.3
If you're experiencing the pain of heartburn, find quick heartburn relief.
Suffering heartburn in pregnancy is common, and is the result of a whole host of changes your body is going through. Just one of these is the increase of the hormone progesterone, which causes the lower esophageal sphincter muscle to relax, sending gastric acid up the esophagus and causing the tell-tale burning sensation.3 If you haven’t had heartburn before, be reassured that it is common.3 To help reduce the risk of heartburn and ease symptoms, eat small meals, avoid fatty or greasy foods, and wait at least three hours after eating before lying down.3 Always talk to your doctor about the right treatment for you before using TUMS.
You should seek medical attention if you get heartburn more than twice a week8 or experience severe heartburn symptoms. Seek medical attention if heartburn symptoms continue even with the use of over-the-counter heartburn medication, or if you have trouble swallowing.8
Chest pain may be something more serious than heartburn and may need to be assessed by a physician immediately.9 If you think that you are having a heart attack, get medical help right away.
Typical heart attack signs and symptoms include:9
- Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing in the center of your chest
- Pain or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back
- Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain
- Feeling lightheaded or sudden dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
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- Acid Reflux. American College of Gastroenterology. https://gi.org/topics/acid-reflux/. Accessed 09/04/19. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
- Heartburn Overview. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9617-heartburn-overview. Accessed 10/17/19. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
- What Are the Differences Between Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and GERD? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/gerd/heartburn-vs-acid-reflux. Accessed 10/17/19. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
- What Is Heartburn? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/guide/understanding-heartburn-basics. Accessed 10/17/19. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
- Can a tight belt cause any physical harm? Men’s Health. https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19517112/can-a-tight-belt-cause-any-physical-harm/. Accessed 10/17/19. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
- Is there a link between heartburn and gas? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323458. Accessed 10/17/19. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
- What Is Acid Reflux Disease? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/guide/what-is-acid-reflux-disease#1-3. Accessed 10/17/19. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
- Heartburn. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heartburn/symptoms-causes/syc-20373223. Accessed 10/18/19. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
- Heartburn or heart attack: When to worry. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heartburn/in-depth/heartburn-gerd/art-20046483. Accessed 10/18/19. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
Learn More About Heartburn
Explore these sections for more about identifying and treating heartburn.