Heartburn and Acid Reflux – What The Hell is The Difference?

Heartburn relief

Heartburn, heart attack and angina can feel very similar. Even most experienced physicians cannot always determine the difference from a patient’s medical history and only a physical examination can tell this. That is why, when you visit the ER for chest pain, you will be given a series of tests to exclude a heart attack from causing the symptoms you are experiencing. However, there are some common things that doctors see in patients who have heartburn, a heartburn symptom.

Patients who have heartburn often experience several symptoms within a few hours of experiencing acid reflux. The main symptom that patients report is a burning sensation or discomfort in the chest and throat. This discomfort usually begins about an hour or two after the meal is consumed. Some patients have heartburn that lasts as much as several hours.

Heartburn usually clears up within several hours with lifestyle changes. This includes clearing up of the acidity in the stomach by reducing the intake of fatty and spicy foods. Taking antacids such as Tums or Rolaids can help to relieve some of the discomfort. Also, patients should avoid eating large meals, eating too fast, lying down after eating, smoking and resting completely.

Patients with heartburn often experience a choking sensation in the back of the throat. This is called nausea and can cause additional pain because it increases pressure on the stomach which causes the chest to press against the throat. If this happens for several hours or after the medication has been used, the pain may be mild or moderate and continuous. If it continues for more than a couple of days, it could lead to a chronic condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which is a condition that requires hospitalization and frequent, long-term treatment.

People who have heartburn often have symptoms that are the same or very similar to those of acid reflux. Chest pressure, difficulty swallowing, a feeling of fullness in the stomach, painful swallowing and chest pains are all associated with heartburn. Other symptoms of heartburn include a sour taste in the mouth, sore throat, hoarseness in the neck, a cough, belching and vomiting. Patients sometimes feel pain in their chest right after a meal, which is called heartburn acid reflux. Sometimes, heartburn symptoms do not go away even though food is swallowed and heartburn does not occur.

The difference between heartburn and acid reflux is that heartburn occurs when the stomach makes too much acid. This excess acid is then reabsorbed into the bloodstream and travels through the tubes in the esophagus until it reaches the mouth, where it is absorbed into the stomach. On the other hand, acid reflux occurs when the stomach produces acid in the throat.