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What Does Heartburn Feel Like? Here's the ANSWER

Most people have experienced heartburn at some time or the other during their lifetime. Many also go through life with heartburn as their constant companion.  But what does heartburn really feel like? Knowing what heartburn feels like certainly will help to recognize it and take action to get rid of it.

It is important to remember that not everyone who suffers from heartburn has the same symptoms and these symptoms do not automatically mean heartburn. Contrary to its name, heartburn is not related to heart problems. It is a common digestive response to overindulging in a big meal or eating spicy, fried or fatty food. It may also be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which digestive acid flows back into the esophagus. Though not very serious if experienced occasionally, recurring and severe episodes warrant medical evaluation and intervention. But whether symptoms are mild or severe, lifestyle changes can help reduce heartburn.

Heartburn normally starts as a burning feeling in the chest just behind the breastbone and radiates upwards towards the neck. The feeling of pressure or pain behind the sternum usually occurs after eating and may last for up to two hours. The chest pain may also occur when bending over or lying down soon after eating. There is a burning sensation in the throat usually accompanied by hot, sour, acidic, or bitter taste in the mouth or at the back of the throat. It may also be a feeling of food sticking in the middle of the chest or throat or feels like food rushing back into the mouth. Heartburn usually occurs in the evening after a hot spicy meal, or after a meal that is rushed through or eaten too close to bed time. Foods like chocolate, creamy desserts, acidic foods like tomatoes or oranges generally lead to heartburn. The triggers for heartburn may vary from person to person. The heartburn during pregnancy is caused by the hormones as well as the pressure that is physically exerted by the growing uterus. Caffeine, alcohol, smoking exacerbate the symptoms of heartburn.

Generally, the symptoms of heartburn may be mistaken for those of heart attack even by experienced staff of emergency room. Heartburn due to indigestion is generally not accompanied by sweating or nausea and occurs after meals. During heart attack the pain is persistent, is not relieved by antacids and the heartbeat becomes rapid and irregular and there is a proportionate rise in blood pressure. However, it is best to allow a doctor to distinguish as heart attack is a serious condition and requires immediate attention.   

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