What does heartburn feel like?

Closeup shot of a mature man holding his chest in discomfort outdoors

You’ve asked an important question. “Heartburn” describes symptoms caused by the reflux of stomach acid up into the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth down to the stomach). It is a burning sensation. You can feel it high in the abdomen, just below the bottom of the breastbone, or underneath the middle of the breastbone in the chest. In other words, despite the word “heart” in the word “heartburn,” real heartburn comes not from the heart, but from the stomach and esophagus.

Heartburn often starts following a meal (when there’s lots of acid in the stomach) or when you’re bending over or lying down (allowing gravity to pull acid from the stomach into the esophagus). It can awaken you from sleep. The burning sensation can last minutes or longer and usually is relieved by swallowing antacids.

Heartburn often is accompanied by other symptoms. Acid-tasting stuff (sometimes containing small particles of chewed, partially digested food) can regurgitate up to and irritate your throat, producing a sour or salty taste, or causing you to make so much saliva that it sometimes drips out of your mouth. People who have had heartburn for a long time sometimes have trouble swallowing food because stomach acid has irritated and narrowed the esophagus, so that food sticks going down or swallowing becomes painful. Reflux of stomach acid up to the vocal cords in the throat can cause hoarseness, a chronic cough, or wheezing.

When you have what seems like “just” heartburn, what serious conditions should you worry about? If you’ve had heartburn for a long time, acid can irritate the bottom part of your esophagus and raise the risk of cancer forming there. Heartburn may be caused by an ulcer in the stomach or small intestine, which can cause serious bleeding or an abdominal infection. If you’ve had heartburn for many years and done little or nothing about it, your doctor should check it out.

Finally, what seems like “just” heartburn can actually be a condition called angina—a symptom caused by the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries of the heart, which can cause a heart attack and even sudden death. If, along with your heartburn pain, you feel lightheaded or faint; if you break out in a sweat; or if the pain goes into your jaw, your shoulders, your back, or down your arms, contact your doctor. While it still might really be just heartburn, the chance that it’s heart trouble is great enough that you need to get it checked out.

— by Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D.

Below are spiritual recipe for health and wellness: Matthew E. McLaren

Psalm 27:1 “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 37:39 “But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in time of trouble.”

Psalm 138:3 “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.”

Matthew 19:26 “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”

2 Corinthians 4:16 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Psalm 8:2 “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger.”

Psalm 18:1-2 “I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Psalm 18:32 “It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.”

Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.”

Psalm 22:19 “But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me!”

Psalm 28:7-8 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him. The LORD is their strength, and He is the saving refuge of His anointed.”

Psalm 29:11 “The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.”

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