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Heartburn Symptoms

While it may be difficult to pinpoint a specific heartburn cause among individuals, most people share similar heartburn symptoms.

Heartburn symptoms are very common, affecting over seventy million Americans annually. Typically a burning sensation starts in the upper abdomen and moves up into the chest, often making its way to the back of the throat and sometimes up into the jaw and even the arms and back. Heartburn symptoms are exaggerated when lying down or bending forward.

Heartburn symptoms frequently present after a meal of fat-laden or acidic foods, consuming alcohol, smoking cigarettes, eating chocolate or mints, eating citrus fruits, tomatoes and onions. Other triggers are aspirin or other medications such as ibuprofen or sedatives and some medicines for high blood pressure. Obesity and pregnancy can create extra pressure on the lower esophagus leading to discomfort, especially when in combination with other causes. Other factors may include: diabetes, prescription medications, hiatal hernias as well as several autoimmune disorders. Stress and tension can also trigger heartburn symptoms.

The term "heartburn" is named for the chest pains caused by stomach acid that washes up into the esophagus. This chest pain can be confused with angina, though it is strictly a digestive problem.

Heartburn symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain. This may be a dull, heavy discomfort that spreads across the chest.
  • Having extra saliva (this is called water brash).
  • Hoarseness.
  • A feeling that you have something stuck in your throat.
  • A cough
  • Nausea

Advertisments for antacid pills like Tums, Rolaids and Maalox call heartburn "acid indigestion," but the problem may be more serious if it occurs regularly. In many cases, heartburn symptoms are indicative of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), where stomach fluids containing acid and digestive enzymes back up past the valvelike sphincter that separates the stomach from the esophagus, causing pain.

Heartburn Symptoms: References

By Mortin - Copyright 2010
Last modification 10/02/2010