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Constant Heartburn And Chest Pain

Complications Of Gerd And Acid Reflux

GERD Symptoms

Ulcers Stomach acid in the esophagus can cause ulcers. These ulcers have the potential to bleed. To check for bleeding ulcers, your doctor may recommend a stool sample test called hemocult.

Stricture Damage caused by acid reflux can cause the esophagus to scar and narrow. This is called stricture. Over time, stricture could cause a blockage of food and require treatment. The scar tissue is a result of ulcers that occur and heal over time.

Lung and throat problems Acid reflux in the throat could lead to irritation or inflammation of the vocal cords or a sore throat. If the acid is inhaled into the lungs, it could cause aspiration pneumonia or symptoms of asthma. If the acid reflux is chronic, it could eventually cause permanent lung damage including pulmonary fibrosis or bronchiectasis.

Barrettâs esophagus Barrettâs esophagus occurs when the cells in the lower esophagus transform. The transformation is usually caused by damage to the esophageal lining, most often from chronic acid reflux or GERD. There is a small chance these cells may develop into cancer. Patients with Barretts esophagus should have an upper endoscopy done periodically to look for early signs of cancer.

Esophageal cancer Barrettâs esophagus is a major risk factor for developing esophageal cancer. The rate of esophageal cancer is on the rise, but relatively few people with GERD develop Barrettâs esophagus and even fewer people with Barrettâs esophagus develop esophageal cancer.

Location Of Chest Pain

Both cardiac and noncardiac chest pain can occur in the center of the chest behind the breastbone.

However, cardiac chest pain can spread across the chest and even affect other parts of the body, such as the:

  • arms
  • aching
  • burning

In contrast, noncardiac chest pain tends to feel like an intense stabbing or burning sensation just beneath the surface of the skin.

Coughing, breathing, or moving can affect the intensity of noncardiac chest pain, while the severity of cardiac chest pain usually remains stable, even when resting.

Arm Pain: Heartburn Or Something Else

Heart attack survivors often recount their first symptom as a heartburn-like sensation. Many patients explicitly use the word heartburn when recounting their cardiac experience. Patients often realize that their heartburn is in fact not reflux-related but heart-related when:

  • There is a pain radiating up the arm, specifically the left arm
  • They have no history of acid reflux
  • There is a burning sensation in the chest
  • They have not eaten anything prior to the pain
  • The pain doesnt go away with antacid

If your heartburn symptoms dont go away after taking an antacid, and are accompanied by arm pain and back pain, we suggest going to an emergency facility immediately to get medical help.

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Is It A Heart Attack

Heart attacks occur when the blood supply to the heart muscles becomes completely blocked. If a person does not receive immediate treatment, part of the heart muscle can die.

A common symptom of a heart attack is pain or discomfort that typically occurs in the center or left side of the chest. This pain may come and go, and its severity can range from mild to severe. It can also sometimes feel like heartburn or indigestion.

However, not everyone who has a heart attack experiences chest pain. The symptoms of a heart attack can vary considerably from person to person, and they may come on slowly or very suddenly.

Other symptoms of a heart attack might

  • fatigue
  • breaking out in a cold sweat

Anyone who suspects that they or someone else is having a heart attack should immediately call 911 or go to the emergency room.

When trying to distinguish between cardiac and noncardiac chest pain, a person needs to consider the following three factors:

  • the location of the pain
  • how the pain feels

We discuss each of these in more detail below:

Heartburn Or Heart Attack When To Sound The Alarm

Is That Pain in Your Chest Heartburn or a Heart Attack ...

Heartburn is a very common condition that affects about 42 percent of Americans. In fact, I experienced it myself shortly after dinner last night. It is a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux that you typically feel as pain or burning in the chest. When you have heartburn, some of the acid in your stomach comes up into your esophagus, causing that pain. Taking an over-the-counter antacid can bring relief in moments.

Chest pain, however, is also a common sign of heart disease. Heart disease is life-threatening and is diagnosed in about 12 percent of Americans . It is one of the top causes of death for Americans. A heart attack, a condition in which the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen because of blocked blood vessels, can strike suddenly and be fatal if not treated promptly.

If youre experiencing pain or burning in your chest, how do you know its just heartburn and not something more? We spoke with a pair of UVA doctors for some clarity.

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Can Acid Reflux Cause Gas

On average, healthy individuals pass gas 13 to 21 times a day. This gas is expelled through the mouth or anus . Gas accumulates in the digestive tract through eating or bacterial fermentation.

As digestive bacteria break down food, little pockets of air are created in the process. Because the bacteria in each human body is different, some people may be more tolerant of digesting certain food compared to other people.

How Are Acid Reflux and Gas Related

Excessive gas and acid reflux may exist simultaneously. A patient experiencing excessive flatulence may also experience bloating from acid reflux. While acid reflux does not directly cause gas, doctors believe that the two may be interlinked.

This is because certain conditions that trigger acid reflux can also trigger gassiness. Individuals who eat spicy and citrusy foods may increase their acidity levels while also triggering gassiness. Alleviating gassiness could coincidentally improve acid reflux symptoms because the circumstances that create these conditions tend to be similar.

Learn more about what food to avoid in this article: What Is the Best Breakfast for Acid Reflux Sufferers?

Do You Have Laryngopharyngeal Reflux

Laryngopharyngeal reflux or LPR is a type of esophageal reflux that doesnt involve the tell-tale sign of GERD: heartburn. As a result, patients have a difficult time understanding the nature of their symptoms. In most cases, patients with LPR dont even know they have reflux, which is why the disorder is called silent reflux.

LPR is caused by the same mechanism that triggers GERD. When the lower esophageal sphincter loosens, stomach contents travel back up the esophagus. In this case, stomach acids travel further up the pharynx, reaching the larynx and nasal pathways. As a result, a patient with LPR experiences symptoms like:

  • Chronic cough
  • Difficult swallowing feeling of persistent lump in the throat
  • Post-nasal drip

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For Pulmonary Embolism And Heart Attack

Youll receive blood thinning medication and clot dissolvers for a pulmonary embolism, although your doctor may recommend surgery to remove a life-threatening clot.

Clot-busting medications are also first-line treatments for a heart attack. These medications can dissolve a clot and restore blood flow to your heart.

Healthier lifestyle choices help prevent some causes of chest and abdominal pain.

Some ways include:

  • Reducing stress:Relieving some stress in your life could potentially alleviate extreme anxiety and panic disorders.
  • Knowing your limits: Dont be afraid to say no and practice stress management techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to control your feelings and emotions.
  • Eating slower: Eating slower, eating smaller meals, and avoiding certain types of food may prevent symptoms of:
  • reflux disease
  • gastritis
  • esophagitis
  • Regular exercise: Losing weight and eating a healthy diet can also prevent heart disease, as well as reduce the risk of gallstones. Physical activity can even prevent blood clots that travel to the lungs.
  • Following doctors orders: If you have a history of pulmonary embolism, taking blood thinners, wearing compression stockings, and keeping your legs elevated at night could prevent future clots.
  • Some chest and abdominal pain can be mild and resolve within minutes or hours, either on their own or with over-the-counter medication.

    Discomfort caused by certain conditions might not require a doctor, such as:

    • gas

    The Symptoms Of These Two Health Problems May Overlap And Sometimes So Do The Treatments

    What’s That Pain in My Chest (Heartburn #2/GERD #2)

    During your regular after-dinner walk around the neighborhood, you feel a painful sensation in the center of your chest. Could it be your heartburn flaring up again, or something more serious?

    Heartburn is a common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease , often called acid reflux. Acid from the stomach bubbles up into the esophagus, causing a painful burning just behind the breastbone. Not surprisingly, it’s often mistaken for a heart attack. In fact, of the over eight million emergency room visits for chest pain each year, severe heartburn accounts for over half the cases in which actual heart problems are ruled out.

    Chest pain caused by insufficient blood flow to the heart or a heart attack is often described as a feeling of tightness, constriction, or pressure, rather than a burning sensation . But it’s not always easy to tell the difference. “Chest discomfort brought on by exercise is more likely to be a heart-related problem,” says Dr. Michelle O’Donoghue, cardiovascular specialist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. But you can also have angina that’s not related to physical activity, she notes. If you have any symptoms you’re not sure about, see a doctor. And call 911 if you feel chest tightness, have trouble breathing, break into a sweat, turn pale, or become very weak.

    GERD and heart disease are both common, and many people take medications to prevent or treat both conditions.

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    Are There Any Tests For Heartburn

    If it is obvious from the symptoms that a person has heartburn, no tests or exams may be necessary. Advice in regard to lifestyle modifications, diet, or medications may begin immediately.

    If your health care professional is not sure about the diagnosis, or if he or she is concerned about damage done by chronic heartburn, tests may be ordered. This is true especially if the patient has already been prescribed medications that are not relieving the heartburn.

    There is no simple blood test for heartburn. The tests used to diagnose heartburn include the following:

    Look Beyond Chest Pain Symptoms

    When you have a heart attack, its because one of the coronary arteries that provide blood to the heart is blocked. The blockage obstructs the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart.

    When you think of a heart attack, you may picture a person clutching their chest and collapsing from sudden, severe pain. But the symptoms of a heart attack often are much more subtle. This is especially true for women, Dr. Abdallah says.

    A study by researchers at the University of British Columbia showed women are slightly less likely than men to experience chest pain during a heart attack.

    Instead, they often suffer from subtle symptoms such as:

    • Pain in the arms, neck or jaw.
    • Sweating or cold sweat.
    • Feelings of fullness, indigestion or choking .
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Lightheadedness, dizziness, extreme weakness or anxiety.

    People with diabetes who are having a heart attack often have atypical or minimal symptoms, Dr. Abdallah says. If you have diabetes, you should seek medical attention for even slight chest or stomach pain or discomfort.

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    When In Doubt Check It Out

    If youre not sure if its heartburn or your heart, seek medical attention right away. Its very easy to confuse the two issues so let a doctor rule out the most severe possibility. This is an especially important message for women.

    Women are more likely to call help for someone else but not themselves, Bauman said. In fact, 81 percent of women said they would call 911 for someone else showing signs of a heart attack but only 65 percent would call for themselves, according to a special report in Circulation.

    She added: I always tell people if youre concerned and not sure if its your heart, its better to err on the side of checking it out and having someone tell you its not a heart attack.

    What Is Acid Reflux

    102 best Chest images on Pinterest

    Theres a ringlike muscle where your esophagus meets your stomach called the lower esophageal sphincter . A properly working LES protects the esophagus from the acid in your stomach by keeping the pathway between them clenched shut.

    When the LES is loose or too relaxed, acidic gastric juices can bubble up into your esophagus, which is a major cause of acid reflux.

    A little bit of reflux is normal. But if you have excessive stomach acid in your esophagus, youre likely to be in a lot of discomfort.

    Its very common, says Naveen Narahari, MD, of REX Digestive Healthcare. On any given week, 60 percent of the adult population might have some kind of reflux. But we look closely at patients who have symptoms frequently over the course of a week.

    Three or more times a week is cause for concern, adds Ruth Mokeba, MD, of REX Digestive Healthcare, as well as high intensity of symptoms. We can help these patients improve their quality of life and hopefully reduce their chances of developing a more serious disease like Barretts esophagus or esophageal cancer.

    A complication of long-term GERD, Barretts esophagus changes a patients esophageal lining. This tissue damage leads to an increased risk of cancer.

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    Can Acid Reflux Cause Chest Pain

    Chest pain is one of the most common symptoms of acid reflux. Chest pain related to reflux is also called noncardiac chest pain . Chest pain occurs during reflux episodes because the heart and the esophagus share a nerve network. Acid reflux, specifically GERD, causes up to 66% of reported NCCPs.

    Evaluating Your Chest Pain

    Since chest pain from acid reflux and more serious conditions such as heart attack are hard to distinguish, its important to know how to evaluate your chest pain. Chest pain from acid reflux often affects the sternum or the area below it called the epigastrium. Pain from acid reflux is often characterized as a sharp pain, which gets worse with coughing.

    Meanwhile, chest pain from non-acid reflux sources could be described as a deep, searing pain. Heart-related chest pain often radiates to other parts of the body including the back, neck, shoulders, and arms.

    The symptoms that accompany chest pain are also key in evaluating the nature of the pain. Gastro-related chest pain is often accompanied by burping or flatulence, trouble swallowing, bile regurgitation, and a burning sensation in the throat or stomach.

    Cardiac-related chest pain is often accompanied by numbness in the left arm or shoulder, shortness of breath, dizziness, and high body temperatures.

    Epigastric Pain In Pregnancy

    Mild epigastric pain is common while youre pregnant due to the pressure that your growing pregnancy puts on your abdominal area. Its also common because of the changes in your hormones and your digestion. You may also experience frequent heartburn while youre pregnant.

    However, significant epigastric pain in pregnancy is sometimes a symptom of a serious condition known as preeclampsia. It requires close monitoring by your doctor and can become life-threatening if severe. Youll require close observation, blood pressure checks, blood tests, and urine tests to rule this out as a cause of epigastric pain.

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    What Lifestyle Changes Relieve Heartburn

    There are several ways to treat and avoid heartburn with lifestyle changes .

    Lose weight and maintain your ideal weight. Excess weight increases the pressure on the stomach, increasing the chance of acid reflux into the esophagus.

    Quit smoking: Smoking interferes with the proper functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter.

    Avoid foods that aggravate heartburn and replace them with healthy foods. Avoid foods that trigger heartburn . Consider keeping a food journal to alert you to foods that make your heartburn worse. Decrease the amount of food you eat.

    Elevate the head of the bed: If you are experiencing heartburn at night, elevating the head of the bed will decrease reflux.

    Heartburn Heart Attack And Gender

    Acid Reflux & Heartburn : Symptoms of GERD & Chest Pain

    Not everyone experiences heart attacks the same way. The common signs of heart attack include chest pain, pressure, tightness, squeezing or burning, and it could be in the middle or to either side of the chest, says Patterson. It may or may not spread to the neck, jaw, back or arm.

    Other possible symptoms of heart attack include:

    • Shortness of breath
    • Exercise intolerance
    • Other symptoms similar to heartburn and abdominal pain

    In particular, gender may have an impact on potential heart attack symptoms. Women tend to not have the typical heart attack symptoms. It can present as something that feels like heartburn, states Sauer.

    It is more common for women to present with the atypical symptoms, agrees Patterson. An example would be fatigue without chest pain or shortness of breath without chest pain.

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    Can Symptoms Other Than Heartburn Be Signs Of Gerd

    Numerous symptoms other than heartburn are associated with GERD. These may include belching, difficulty or pain when swallowing, or waterbrash .

    An alarming symptom needing prompt medical attention is dysphagia .

    Other GERD symptoms may involve chronic sore throat, laryngitis, throat clearing, chronic cough, and other oral complaints such as inflammation of the gums and erosion of the enamel of the teeth. Small amounts of acid can reflux into the back of the throat or into the lungs and cause irritation.

    Hoarseness in the morning, a sour taste, or bad breath may be clues of GERD. Chronic asthma, cough, wheezing, and noncardiac chest pain, may be due to GERD. People with these symptoms often have less frequent or even absent typical symptoms of GERD such as heartburn.

    Chest pain or chest pressure may indicate acid reflux. Nevertheless, this kind of pain or discomfort should prompt urgent medical evaluation. Possible heart conditions must always be excluded first.

    When seeing a doctor, relief or improvement of symptoms after a two-week trial therapy with a proton pump inhibitor is an indication that GERD is the likely cause. This can also be confirmed with pH monitoring, which measures the level of acid refluxing into the esophagus and as high as the larynx.

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