What are the Most Common Symptoms of Heartburn?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 23 January 2020
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The symptoms of heartburn are fairly straightforward, and include a burning sensation that can occur in the middle of the chest up to the back of the throat, difficulty swallowing and a feeling that food is stuck in the throat, or simply non-localized pain in the chest. Heartburn is typically indicative of acid reflux, where stomach acid is forced back up into the esophagus. Symptoms of heartburn typically worsen when lying down, because that makes it easier for stomach acid to travel back into the esophagus.

The most common symptoms of heartburn are a burning feeling in the chest and in the back of the throat, accompanied by an unpleasant taste in the mouth that is often sour or salty. This taste and burning in the throat makes it difficult to swallow, and the burning can be quite painful. Heartburn generally occurs soon after eating certain types of food, and usually lasts for a few hours, though for some people it lasts for a shorter time.

Other symptoms of heartburn include a persistent cough, and occasionally wheezing. These symptoms occur more often with persistent heartburn, and can indicate that damage to the esophagus is occurring. If one frequently experiences symptoms of heartburn, this can mean that acid reflux is happening regularly, and it is a good idea to visit a doctor for evaluation. The doctor will be able to discuss the symptoms and determine if a medication is needed to prevent heartburn.


There are ways to relieve some of the symptoms of heartburn, or to prevent them from occurring in the first place. It is best to identify the foods that tend to cause heartburn, which can be different for everyone. Stopping eating just before one is full can prevent overeating and the backup of food into the esophagus. In addition, it is important to remain in an upright position for a few hours after eating for the same reason. An over-the-counter antacid product can help with the symptoms of heartburn as well.

Sometimes, heartburn and chest pain can feel similar to a heart attack, and it is important to be able to identify the two. Pain from a heart attack will usually worsen with physical activity, and may be accompanied by shortness of breath and pain in the left arm or jaw. Symptoms of heartburn will sometimes lessen with activity, such as a walk. When in doubt, however, anyone suffering from chest pain should call for emergency attention.



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