Not sure of what exactly is the burning sensation experienced by you? Well, chances of heartburn cannot be ruled out. The article will guide you with what heartburn is and its signs & symptoms.

What Is Heartburn

You wake up at half past two with a pain in the chest. You also experience sour or bitter taste in mouth. All seemed well when you had savored the spicy tidbits in dinner and went off to snore. However, the devil soon played a spoilsport and pulled you out of bed, making you wonder what exactly went wrong. Well, it might be a case of heartburn. The burning sensation and the pain can in no time travel from your chest to throat. Moreover, it can be coupled with a feeling of food re-entering your mouth. So, what exactly is heartburn? It should be noted that despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart.
Heartburn is actually a digestive disorder symptom and not a disorder in itself. It occurs when gastric acids produced in the stomach come in direct contact with the esophagus. The phenomenon is termed as acid reflux. Discrepancies in the working process of a valve located at the lower end of the esophagus, known as, lower esophageal sphincter or LES, causes the condition. In a normal digestive process, the LES relaxes to allow the ingested food to pass into the stomach. The problem occurs when the LES tends to relax abnormally or weakens with age. It is during times like this that stomach contents spurt back into the esophagus, causing an uneasy burning sensation in the chest.
Heartburn condition can trigger due to various reasons. Eating fried foods, chocolates, tangy products, intake of caffeine containing drinks, alcohol or tobacco, hiatus hernia, pregnancy, peptic ulcers, obesity and GERD are few underlying factors that can lead to heartburn. Although there is nothing much to worry in case you have occasional heartburn, waste no time in visiting the doctor if it turns out into a daily event. But, the question is, how exactly would you know that it is heartburn and nothing else? To help you sort out the problem, we have listed below a few signs & symptoms of heartburn.
Signs & Symptoms Of Heartburn
  • Lasting for about few minutes to several hours, burning sensation in the chest usually begins behind the breastbone or sternum. This feeling in no time can travel up to the throat, causing mild to severe irritation. The pain worsens while lying down or bending over.
  • When the stomach contents bounce back into the esophagus, it might be accompanied with pain and tends to worsen with swallowing.
  • The burning feeling in the throat soon reaches the mouth, lending it a sour, bitter taste. Quite often one feels that the food contents have re-entered the mouth.
  • Dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing is another symptom of heartburn. It occurs when food passage from the throat through the esophagus to the stomach is not normal. A choking sensation or a feeling that food has remained stuck in the throat even hours after eating is what it exactly feels like. However, one should keep in mind that difficulty in swallowing could be a symptom of even something as grave as esophageal cancer or erosive esophagitis.
  • Chronic cough, sour throat or chronic hoarseness is another symptom which can indicate that you have heartburn. When the stomach contents, including food and several gastric juices and acids, reflux into the esophagus, one can experience chronic coughs. This is because the acid might enter the air tubes leading into the lungs, causing the patient to wheeze and cough repeatedly.
  • If one witnesses wheezing or asthma-like symptoms, it could be heartburn. Various case studies reflect that there is a significant relation between asthma and GERD or gastro esophageal reflux disease. Interestingly, 60 percent of the population having asthma suffers from GERD as well. In GERD, stomach contents reflux back into the esophagus. However, if it enters the airways and leads to the lungs, it can cause breathlessness and hence asthma.

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