When Should You Worry About Heartburn?

When Should You Worry About Heartburn?

When Should You Worry About Heartburn

Heartburn is usually not a cause for concern. However, if the pain is persistent or frequent, it could be a sign of something more serious. Here are signs to look out for

Heartburn is common and usually not a cause for concern. However, sometimes heartburn can be a sign of a serious condition that requires medical attention, especially if you have a history of heart disease.

Consult your doctor immediately if you experience the following:

What is heartburn?

Heartburn refers to discomfort, tightness, or burning pain in the chest. It is a common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), although not every person who has heartburn has GERD. 

GERD refers to the frequent backflow or reflux of stomach acids into the esophagus. To be considered GERD, mild acid reflux must occur at least twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux must occur at least once a week. Repeated acid reflux can lead to inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis), Barrette esophagus (a precancerous condition), and esophageal cancer.

Symptoms may occur or worsen when you lie down or sleep right after a meal, particularly a heavy meal. Symptoms of heartburn vary from mild to severe and may be associated with an acidic or bitter taste in the mouth, hoarseness, or cough. 

Heartburn is typically felt in the middle of the chest right behind your breastbone or sternum. You may feel a burning sensation that starts right under the lower border of the sternum and travels upward toward your throat. The pain, however, does not typically radiate to the shoulders, arms, or jaw.

Although heartburn does not involve the heart, certain heart conditions such as angina or heart attack may mimic heartburn.

What triggers heartburn?

Heartburn is generally triggered by eating certain types of foods. Triggers and risk factors may include:


GERD is the back up of stomach acid into the esophagus. See Answer

What can be mistaken for heartburn?

Certain health conditions have symptoms that mimic heartburn, and it can be difficult to tell the difference. This is why it is important to seek medical attention if your symptoms are frequent or are not relieved by antacids.

Health conditions that may mimic heartburn include:

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Medically Reviewed on 5/3/2022


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