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Most people think of heartburn as a normal part of life - uncomfortable, but normal. Everyone they know gets heartburn at one time or another. They know the television ads by heart - the ones that show people thumping or rubbing their chests to indicate they have heartburn. Typically, people take an antacid and suffer until the burning sensation passes.
Heartburn symptoms are indeed common, but that is no reason to treat them too lightly. Heartburn symptoms do not happen by accident. They are a warning issued by your digestive system.
Heartburn symptoms must be considered in the context of their closely-related concerns: acid indigestion, acid reflux, acid regurgitation, non-cardiac chest pain, and sour stomach. Heartburn symptoms should also be considered in relation to GERD symptoms.
Heartburn symptoms closely resemble the symptoms of all the above, especially symptoms of acid.
Frequently-described Heartburn Symptoms
Heartburn symptoms are most frequently described as a burning sensation. Some may say they feel heat or warmth in the upper abdomen. Others describe heartburn symptoms as pain in the lower chest.
Heartburn symptoms occur behind the sternum - the central breastbone. The location, near the heart, is the reason for the name "heartburn," but the heart is not involved. Some have described their heartburn symptoms as a feeling that the heart is on fire.
In addition to the burning pain, heartburn symptoms can include trouble swallowing, nausea, gas, and bloating.
Heartburn symptoms last as long as 2 hours for some. Some people have difficulty sleeping due to heartburn symptoms.
Why Heartburn Symptoms Need Attention
Heartburn symptoms, whether mild or serious, occasional or frequent, need attention. Let's look at some of the reasons, beginning with one of the most serious.
1. Heartburn symptoms can feel much like heart attack symptoms. If you have heart disease, or are at risk for heart disease, seek medical attention immediately, even though you believe it may be heartburn. It is not worth risking serious or fatal results.
acid reflux symptoms
2. Heartburn symptoms, if frequent, can lead to serious medical concerns such as cancer of the esophagus. The acid that washes back into the esophagus can damage the sensitive linings of the esophagus, and lead to GERD. As it worsens, cancer can develop.
3. Heartburn symptoms are not isolated pain. They occur because something is not right in your digestive system. Heartburn symptoms are warnings. Just as you should not ignore warning lights on you car's dashboard, you should not ignore the warning provided by heartburn symptoms.
Cause of Heartburn Symptoms
Heartburn symptoms are caused by a malfunction of the sphincter muscle at the bottom of the esophagus. This ring of muscle, the lower esophageal sphincter, is known in shorthand as the LES.
The first job of the LES is to open so that swallowed food can enter the stomach. Its second job is to close quickly to keep stomach f