What are the Most Common Signs of Heartburn?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2018
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Heartburn, which is the sensation caused by acid reflux, usually has strong symptoms. The most common of the signs of heartburn is a burning feeling in the chest due to stomach acid coming back up, or refluxing. It's because of this feeling that this most common acid reflux effect became commonly known as "heartburn." The condition has nothing to do with the heart, however, as the burning sensation is excess stomach acid coming up through the esophagus, which is the tube in which consumed food and beverages travel down to be digested. Since the esophagus is located just behind the breastbone, which is fairly close to the heart in the chest, "heartburn" caught on as the lay term to express the pain caused by acid reflux related disorders.

Chest pain is another of the common signs of heartburn. It may be a subtle type of pain. Since chest pain can also suggest something more serious, such as a heart problem, a doctor should be notified.


The burning feeling of acid reflux, or heartburn, may last from minutes to hours. People without medical causes of heartburn may get the condition only once in a while after eating a large meal. Laying down can make the burning feel worse. While experiencing acid reflux occasionally isn't often serious, chronic heartburn could signal a medical problem such as hiatal hernia; this requires immediate treatment. Hiatal hernia occurs when a section of the stomach becomes pressed up too far into the chest cavity.

Another medical condition that causes heartburn symptoms is an ulcer. Ulcers are the wearing away of tissue due to stores of excess stomach acid. Stress as well as genetics and some medicines are thought to play a role in ulcer development. If signs of heartburn are accompanied by a gnawing feeling in the lower chest or upper stomach, it could indicate an ulcer. Ulcers are serious and need immediate medical attention or fatal internal bleeding could occur.

Although a burning sensation and chest pain are the most common acid reflux, or heartburn, symptoms, a gassy feeling in the stomach may also occur. A sour taste in the mouth is another of the common signs of heartburn. The sour taste may not only feel acidic, but may taste of food. This is because partially digested food may be regurgitated along with the reflux of acid.



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