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Can Heartburn Make Your Chest Hurt

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Acid Reflux and Chest Pain with Gastroenterologist Dr. Olufemi Abiodun

As you can see, there are many types of foods to avoid if you have GERD or acid reflux disease. However, you may or may not experience symptoms after eating one of these foods as each case is different. This list of foods is meant to give you general guidelines of foods to avoid.

With that being said, the most reliable way to know which foods you should avoid is to keep a food journal. Pay attention to what you eat, then record whether or not you experience symptoms after.

You should also pay attention to which situations lead to your symptoms. For instance, do you experience symptoms in the morning before youve eaten, or after a large lunch? Or, perhaps you notice symptoms at night after eating a late dinner or dessert.

If you have more questions about preventing GERD or acid reflux symptoms, talk with your doctor. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may give you a prescription to help soothe your heartburn.

Prescriptions usually include histamine-2 blockers , proton pump inhibitors , and promotility agents. These are usually short-term prescriptions for acid reflux treatment while you make dietary adjustments.

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Heartburn is a burning chest pain or discomfort that is a characteristic feature of acid reflux when stomach acid rises up into the esophagus . The pain may be similar to that of a heart attack. It is not uncommon for patients with acid reflux or indigestion to present in an emergency room with the belief that they are experiencing a heart attack. However, acid reflux and a heart attack are two very different conditions with a few similar symptoms like a burning chest pain. It is important to understand the difference between these conditions and recognize the other symptoms that are more likely to be an indication of acid reflux or a cardiac event. Sweating is one such symptom. While profuse sweating for no apparent reason commonly occurs with a heart attack there are some instances when it can arise with a burning chest pain that is unrelated to a heart attack.

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Heartburn And Heart Attack Pain Can Be Similar Learn The Difference

Youre relaxing at home after a delicious meal. You notice you dont feel quite right. You have an upset stomach. There is a burning sensation in your chest area.

Is it heartburn from indigestion? Could it be a heart attack?

Chest discomfort is the most common symptom of a heart attack, which can be life-threatening. But it can also be a sign of heartburn, which has nothing to do with the heart and is a common symptom of indigestion.

It can sometimes be difficult to tell one from the other. Learning the difference can help you protect your heart health and know when to seek medical attention.

If youre not sure if its heartburn or a heart attack, and your chest pain is persistent seek medical help right away, says Kiyon Chung, MD, a Scripps cardiologist. You will be checked immediately to rule out a heart attack. If your chest pain turns out to be a heart attack, doctors will work to lessen any heart damage.

If its indigestion, youll want to make sure it doesnt become a chronic problem. You may be able to find quick relief taking an over-the-counter antacid or other medication.

What is indigestion?

Heartburn is a symptom of indigestion or acid reflux. It happens when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, the food pipe that connects the throat to the stomach. This backflow causes a burning feeling or pain in the chest. Another symptom is regurgitation, which is when food rises in the back of the throat.

What is a heart attack?

Symptoms of heart attack

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How To Tell The Difference Between Acid Reflux & A Heart Attack

When trying to distinguish the difference between acid reflux and a heart attack, you can use the location of the pain, how the pain feels to you, and the accompanying symptoms to determine which condition you are experiencing.

  • Location of Pain: with acid reflux, the sharp, searing pain youre experiencing will remain localized and will not spread away from underneath the breastbone. With a heart attack, the pain will often affect other areas of the body, spreading to the arms, shoulders, back, neck, throat, jaw, and teeth. In addition to this, things like moving around, breathing, and coughing will make acid reflux worse, whereas cardiac chest pain remains stable.
  • How the Pain Feels: the pain with acid reflux is sharp, searing, or feels like a burning or stabbing sensation that is just underneath the skin. With a heart attack, the pain is squeezing, heavy, full, or puts an immense amount of pressure on your chest. You may feel like your chest is tightening or aching.
  • Accompanying Symptoms: with acid reflux, you will also have difficulty swallowing, bloating, belching , bad breath, a sore throat, and an unpleasant sour taste in your mouth. With a heart attack, the accompanying symptoms are shortness of breath, dizziness , numbness, pain in other areas of the body, and an irregular heartbeat.
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    I tell my patients that if you belch and the symptoms go away, it probably isnt related to your heart but to your esophagus, Bauman said. But if you have shortness of breath or sweating, then its likely a heart-related issue.

    However, everyone is different, and not all symptoms are caused by one or the other, so:

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    Can Acid Reflux Cause Chest Pain

    Chest pain is one of the most common symptoms of acid reflux. Chest pain related to reflux is also called noncardiac chest pain . Chest pain occurs during reflux episodes because the heart and the esophagus share a nerve network. Acid reflux, specifically GERD, causes up to 66% of reported NCCPs.

    Evaluating Your Chest Pain

    Since chest pain from acid reflux and more serious conditions such as heart attack are hard to distinguish, its important to know how to evaluate your chest pain. Chest pain from acid reflux often affects the sternum or the area below it called the epigastrium. Pain from acid reflux is often characterized as a sharp pain, which gets worse with coughing.

    Meanwhile, chest pain from non-acid reflux sources could be described as a deep, searing pain. Heart-related chest pain often radiates to other parts of the body including the back, neck, shoulders, and arms.

    The symptoms that accompany chest pain are also key in evaluating the nature of the pain. Gastro-related chest pain is often accompanied by burping or flatulence, trouble swallowing, bile regurgitation, and a burning sensation in the throat or stomach.

    Cardiac-related chest pain is often accompanied by numbness in the left arm or shoulder, shortness of breath, dizziness, and high body temperatures.

    Is It Possible To Prevent A Heart Attack Or Heartburn

    There is a good possibility that both heartburn or a heart attack can be reduced or prevented. A balanced diet along with exercise is key to preventing for both heartburn and or heart attack. In addition to treating the underlying cause of heartburn, there are life style changes and natural home remedies that may help prevent it.

    • Eat small, more frequent meals.
    • Do not eat about three hours before bedtime.
    • Elevate the head of your bed by about 6 inches.
    • Do not eat or drink foods that are acidic or trigger acid development in the stomach.
    • Stop smoking and/or drinking alcohol.
    • Try to take your heartburn medication at the same time each day.

    The chances of reducing or stopping recurrent or initial heart attacks may be prevented by lifestyle changes, for example:

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    What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Gerd

    Often, people who have GERD notice that they regularly have the pain of heartburn in the chest or stomach. This can last up to a couple of hours. Many notice their heartburn is worse after eating.

    Regurgitation when food and liquid containing stomach acid comes back up into the throat or mouth is also a sign of GERD. But, like heartburn, occasional regurgitation is common for everyone.

    Other symptoms of GERD include:

    • a sore, raw throat or hoarse voice
    • a frequent sour taste of acid, especially when lying down
    • a feeling of burping acid into the mouth
    • trouble swallowing

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    The fiery feeling of heartburn is the last way you want to remember a great meal. But when your doctor says you have chronic heartburn caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease , you may worry that a bland and disappointing menu is in your future. That may not be true, says Dr. Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. The foods that trigger heartburn are different for everyone. He suggests keeping a journal to determine which foods cause symptoms.

    Common culprits

    Some foods and ingredients may intensify heartburn, such as spicy foods, citrus, tomato sauces, and vinegar.

    Fatty and fried foods linger longer in the stomach. That may increase stomach pressure and force open the muscles that keep stomach acid out of the esophagus.

    Other common heartburn triggers include chocolate, caffeine, onions, peppermint, carbonated drinks, and alcohol.

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    What Causes Chest Pain

    It is always a good idea to visit a doctor at least once to rule out any potential heart health issues. Anxiety can cause chest pain, but an important factor in reducing the stress of that chest pain is by making sure you are confident that your heart is in good health. Visiting a doctor is never a bad thing!

    Often those living with anxiety and panic attacks will experience chest pain caused by any number of different factors. Some of these include:

    • Hyperventilation Those with panic attacks and anxiety are prone to hyperventilation, or breathing in too much oxygen. It is often due to rapid muscle contractions and excess air in the lungs. Hyperventilation contracts blood vessels and causes considerable chest pain.
    • Bloating anxiety can be connected to excess gas or bloating. Hyperventilation disorder can contribute to this as well. Bloating can cause an increased amount of pressure on the lungs, which in turn leads to chest pain.
    • Psychosomatic most people dont like to believe the idea that the problem is in their head, but those with extreme anxiety and panic attacks, that are worried about their health, may feel genuine pain even though no cause of pain is present. Psychosomatic means that a physical ailment is aggravated or caused by their thoughts. The anxious mind actually convinces the body that there is a symptom, in this case chest pain.

    When You Should Visit A Doctor For Acid Reflux

    If you experience acid reflux more than twice a week for several weeks in a row, its time to visit your doctor. They will ask you about your ongoing symptoms and may perform a physical exam. In some cases, they may also recommend tests like an upper endoscopy, in which a small camera is inserted down your throat to examine your esophageal lining, or a 24-hour pH test to measure the level of acid in your esophagus.

    • Are There Any Lifestyle Changes That Can Help Prevent/Reduce Acid Reflux Symptoms?

    There are a few lifestyle changes you can make that may help reduce your risk of developing acid reflux or lessen the symptoms if you already have them. Try to:

    • Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight puts pressure on your stomach and can contribute to reflux.
    • Avoid trigger foods. Try to stay away from consuming foods that you know will trigger your acid reflux.
    • Quit smoking. Smoking relaxes the sphincter muscle and increases stomach acid production.
    • Dont lie down after eating. Give yourself at least a couple of hours after eating before lying down. This gives your food time to digest and may help prevent acid reflux.
    • Sleep with your head elevated. Raising the head of your bed may help gravity keep stomach acid from refluxing into your esophagus.
    • Wear loose-fitting clothes. Tight clothing, especially around your waist, can put pressure on your stomach and contribute to acid reflux.

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    Am I Having Heartburn Or A Heart Attack

    Youre experiencing chest pain after a big meal. It could be your heartburn acting up. However, its also possible that the chest pain is a sign of an impending heart attack. These two issues often feel very similar, making it hard to determine the difference. As a result, emergency room doctors will typically perform diagnostic tests to rule out a heart attack if youre experiencing chest pain.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Heartburn And Gerd

     Can Acid Reflux Cause Pain In Your Chest And Back

    Symptoms of heartburn and GERD are a burning feeling in the chest, throat, or mouth, nausea, and more. Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms include fatigue, pale skin, weakness, sleepiness, numbness, weakness, and more. The median nerve, which runs through the arm and hand, can cause swelling pain and numbness if injured.

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    What Happens When You Have Heartburn

    While its name suggests otherwise, heartburn has no impact on your heart.

    Heartburn, or acid indigestion, happens when your stomach acid flows back into your esophagus. It causes an uncomfortable burning feeling or pain in your chest that can move up to your neck and throat.

    The esophagus is located close to the heart, so its often difficult for people to distinguish where the pain is coming from, Dr. Abdallah says.

    This is why its important for a doctor to rule out a heart attack if over-the-counter antacids dont work or if you experience the less pronounced symptoms, he says.

    If left untreated, heartburn can cause more serious problems such as inflammation and narrowing of the esophagus, respiratory problems, chronic cough or even cancer.

    The good news: Several types of over-the-counter medicines are available to treat heartburn.

    Learn How It Differs From A Heart Attack

    Have you been experiencing significant discomfort or pain in your chest? Has this pain affected your daily routines and overall quality of life? You may be experiencing severe or persistent heartburn, which often occurs two times a week or more.

    Its important to manage severe heartburn, as the impact on your health can be serious. When your esophagus or throat is regularly exposed to stomach acid, it can cause pain, throat ulcers, and tissue abnormalities.1 This could affect your ability to swallow, breathe, and even speak. Unmanaged, this damage could increase your risk of developing certain types of cancers.

    Since these severe heartburn symptoms are experienced in the same region as symptoms experienced during a heart attack, it’s crucial to understand the difference between the two.2 Heartburn pain tends to be felt in the center of your chest, while heart attack pain may be slightly to the left of your heart. It can radiate through your back, neck, jaw, shoulders, and/or down your arms . Heartburn sufferers often describe their symptoms as a series of sharp chest pains, while victims of a heart attack tend to describe the feeling as a dull heaviness.

    If you’re uncertain whether you’re experiencing heartburn or a heart attack, speak to a medical professional right away.2 Additionally, if you find that your heartburn is more frequent , you may want to consult your doctor about trying a proton pump inhibitor like Nexium 24HR.


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    Can Acid Reflux Cause Gas

    As digestive bacteria break down food, little pockets of air are created in the process. Because the bacteria in each human body is different, some people may be more tolerant of digesting certain food compared to other people.

    How Are Acid Reflux and Gas Related

    Excessive gas and acid reflux may exist simultaneously. A patient experiencing excessive flatulence may also experience bloating from acid reflux. While acid reflux does not directly cause gas, doctors believe that the two may be interlinked.

    This is because certain conditions that trigger acid reflux can also trigger gassiness. Individuals who eat spicy and citrusy foods may increase their acidity levels while also triggering gassiness. Alleviating gassiness could coincidentally improve acid reflux symptoms because the circumstances that create these conditions tend to be similar.

    Learn more about what food to avoid in this article: What Is the Best Breakfast for Acid Reflux Sufferers?

    How Do I Know If My Chest Pain Is Serious

    How I Healed My Stomach – GERD/Acid Reflux/Stomach Pain

    You may not be able to tell the difference between a heart attack and noncardiac chest pain. For this reason, you should always take chest pain seriously. If it is sudden or new and lasts longer than five minutes, go to the emergency room. If it goes away after a few minutes, it may not be an emergency, but you should still see your healthcare provider as soon as possible to determine the cause. Noncardiac chest pain, whatever the cause, can always occur again, and can end up affecting your quality of life.

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    Diagnosing Chest Pain On The Left Side Above A Female Breast

    To diagnose the cause of your chest pain on the left side your doctor will discuss your symptoms and may run blood tests. They also may take X-rays or order an electrocardiogram and exercise stress test. They will want to rule out a heart attack or other heart problems.

    The doctor may also evaluate you for microvascular anginathis can occur when your hearts arteries are not supplying enough oxygen-rich blood due to spasm or cellular dysfunction. Once heart problems have been ruled out, they will look for other signs of trauma to your chest and breast and may run further tests to determine if it is related to another illness.

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