Is it only a heartburn or a heart attack? A heartburn can often be mistaken for a heart attack as many of their symptoms overlap. Even doctors conduct diagnostic tests to rule out the chances of having a heart attack when the patient gets admitted for chest pain. It is, of course, a thing to worry about, but if you can identify the heartburn signs and symptoms, you can quickly take care of yourself and your family in such a panic-stricken situation.
Heartburn is a feeling that you get when the acids from the food in your stomach rise to the esophagus or the food pipe. It is the acids that make their way backward via the food pipe, which mostly irritates your chest area, mainly the center and the upper part of the chest. This sensation can also be felt near the breastbone or the sternum. This feeling increases if you are lying on your back or turning to the right side. A woman during pregnancy may feel heartburn signs and symptoms quite frequently. It is due to the hormonal and physical changes that take place during those months.
The good news is that you do not often need a doctor if you experience heartburn signs and symptoms. However, if this problem persists over a longer period or is very frequent, you should go for a medical checkup. There are readily available medicines and loads of home remedies to treat heartburn, provided you do not have any underlying severe gastroenterological problems.
Causes of heartburn
The esophagus, which connects the mouth to the stomach, is tight at the end where it meets the stomach. However, when the esophagus or the food tract relaxes suddenly or weakens, the acids from the consumed food and stomach might re-enter the track and make its way to the chest or even the mouth, it causes acid reflux and gives a horrible sensation, which is called a heartburn.
Heartburn or acid reflux can completely spoil your taste as acids from the food enter your chest as well as your mouth. You can feel a sudden pain in the chest area as well as a sore throat.
Signs and symptoms of heartburn
If you are feeling uncomfortable after a meal or have experience pain in the chest, you should look for any one of the below-mentioned heartburn signs and symptoms:
- A burning sensation in the chest area, especially behind the breastbone, which takes place after few minutes or hours of eating. It can last for few minutes or even hours, depending on the severity of the pain.
- If you are experiencing sudden chest pain while lying down or bending over your bed or after having a meal, you must check by yourself or get it checked through a doctor whether it indicates heartburn signs and symptoms or pain related to the other parts of the body.
- As the sour or salty acids re-enter the food pipe and rise toward your throat, you can feel a sore throat and irritation in your throat.
- You might face problems with swallowing food in case you are having a heartburn.
- You might feel uncomfortable as if the food is stuck in your food pipe or the throat.
- You might have a bad cough followed by the abovementioned heartburn signs and symptoms and also severe or acute hoarseness.
- If you are feeling shortness of breath and irritation or radiation in the neck area or the arms, you should immediately go to a doctor as these are symptoms of severe illness.
How to diagnose heartburn
Doctors first check for the heartburn signs and symptoms, and if there is any severity, they will conduct an endoscopy to found out if any damage has been caused to the internal organs due to a persistent heartburn. They also rule out the chances of heart attack by few physical and medical tests. X-rays can be done to check the condition of the digestive system.
Remedies and treatments
Mild heartburn can be treated with antacids available in the market or as per your doctor’s provided prescription. If the case is severe, the doctor might prescribe prolonged medical or surgical treatment.
How to prevent heartburn through a healthy food habit and lifestyle
The best thing you can do to control or treat heartburn is to maintain a healthy way of life. This is a problem that can be addressed with proper food habits, physical activities, and the required amount of sleep. By keeping your head a little elevated while sleeping, you can avoid the irritation of heartburn. Avoid alcoholic drinks as it causes more acid formation.
By avoiding junk and spicy food, you can minimize the attacks of heartburn and control your health. If this problem is not controlled at the right time, it can grow to some serious gastroenterological problems.