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Why Does Heartburn Cause Chest Pain

Acid Reflux And Headaches

Acid Reflux and Chest Pain with Gastroenterologist Dr. Olufemi Abiodun

While there are no studies showing that gastrointestinal disorders can lead to headaches, there are publications that illustrate how gastric problems, in particular acid reflux, can coincide with headaches.

A study involving 43,782 patients studies the possible prevalence of headaches in patients with gastrointestinal problems. Compared to diarrhea and constipation, patients with acid reflux symptoms report higher prevalence of headaches.

Another study involving 1,832 migraine patients were tested for heartburn and GERD symptoms. Of the group, 22% reported GERD diagnosis, 11.6% reported heartburn, and another 15.8% reported previously undiagnosed reflux symptoms.

These studies show that patients with acid reflux problems also tend to experience headaches, although there are no clear reasons why. Although unclear, doctors confirm that treating gastrointestinal problems also alleviates headache symptoms, which is how acid reflux-related headaches are treated.

Why Does My Left Side Hurt When I Have Heartburn

Heartburn can cause burning pain in your upper left quadrant and the middle of your chest. The burning painful feeling is caused when stomach acids escape from your stomach and irritate your esophagus. According to Dr. Melinda Ratini on WebMD, heartburn is a common digestive disorder affecting millions of people.

Worried About Your Heartburn

Find a primary care provider to answer your questions.

If youre concerned that the burning in your chest is more than an antacid can handle, dont hesitate to see your doctor. If youve never had heartburn and youre older, seeing your primary care doctor is the right thing to do, says Sauer.

If you have taken antacids for what you believe is reflux and the reflux is not going away, Its really a no-brainer to make sure its not the heart first, advises Patterson.

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    Signs That Heartburn Is A Warning Of Something More Serious

    Heartburn is often not serious and will go away on its own or with over-the-counter medications. If you have heartburn that occurs with other symptoms, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. These symptoms may include:

    • Shortness of breath

    • Feeling clammy

    • Increased heart rate

    If you have heartburn or chest pain with any of these symptoms, it is important to get immediate medical attention. This is because these symptoms could mean there is a more serious cause that requires urgent treatment.

    When Should I Call The Doctor With Acid Reflux Symptoms

    Be sure to call your doctor if you dont get lasting relief from medications. Also call the doctor right away if you have any alarm acid reflux symptoms, such as these:

    • Black, tarry, or maroon-colored stools
    • Difficulty or pain with swallowing

    Other acid reflux symptoms that should prompt a call to your doctor include:

    • Asthma-like symptoms, such as wheezing or dry cough
    • Hoarseness, especially in the morning
    • Hiccups that dont let up
    • Nausea that lasts for more than a day or two

    Sometimes, people confuse the symptoms of heart attack with symptoms of acid reflux disease. Thats because pain in the chest can feel like heartburn. When in doubt, call your doctor.

    • Chest pain, pressure, or fullness lasting more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back
    • Pain or discomfort in your neck, shoulder, upper back, or jaw
    • Shortness of breath, with or without chest pain
    • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or nausea

    Esophageal Damage

    Lets say youre at the dinner table. Youve just chowed down on a massive plate of spaghetti and you feel a burning sensation in your chest. The telltale signs of heartburn, right? You take an antacid and hope it goes away. Consider this, though: Theres a chance the pain in your chest is actually the sign of a heart angina or even a heart attack.

    Signs that are more likely to signal a heart attack

    Signs that are more likely to signal heartburn

    Also Check: How To Get Heartburn Away Fast

    Excess Saliva After Eating

    As mentioned above, slightly increased saliva production after eating is perfectly normal, thats how the body works. Especially after hot, spicy foods, we tend to produce more saliva.

    However, drooling, the difficulty of swallowing is not normal.

    If excess saliva production is related to eating, and it is accompanied by a sour taste in the mouth , chest pain, heartburn, regurgitation, it is not normal.

    Acid reflux or GERD affects about 20% of people in the US. If your excess saliva production only happens after eating, especially if you also experience the above-mentioned symptoms, chances are acid reflux is the cause.

    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.

    Also Check: How Do People Get Heartburn

    What Foods And Drinks Cause Heartburn

    • Alcohol: Alcohol can relax the lower esophageal sphincter.
    • Coffee and orange or other acidic juices are some of the beverages that can worse or trigger heartburn.
    • Fatty foods, fried foods, and some acidic foods as well as spicy foods can cause heartburn.
    • Additional foods that make heartburn worse.

    Every person reacts somewhat differently to specific food groups. To track what foods worsen your symptoms, keep a food journal. In this journal, you should keep track of what you eat, the time you ate, any activity that worsened or made the heartburn better, and indicate which days you have heartburn symptoms. Over time, you will be able to correlate the offending foods with heartburn events. Print this and take this with you to your next doctor’s appointment to discuss possible causes of heartburn you may be experiencing.

    Heartburn Journal – Week of________________

    Pregnancy tends to aggravate heartburn because the lower esophageal sphincter is weakened during pregnancy. This weakened resolves after delivery of the baby. Pregnancy also distorts the organs in the abdomen and the increased abdominal pressure from the growing fetus causes heartburn. These changes promote the reflux of acid and heartburn.

    Approximately 17% to 45% of women who become pregnant will suffer from heartburn.

    Management of heartburn during pregnancy consists of many of the same home remedies and lifestyle changes for a person with heartburn who is not pregnant .

    Reducing The Causes Of Low Stomach Acid And Bacterial Overgrowth

    Chest Pain from Acid Reflux with Southlake Gastroenterologist Dr. Olufemi Abiodun

    H.pylori. is a common bacterial overgrowth that can suppress the production of stomach acid. Unfortunately, this creates a vicious were both low stomach acid and bacterial overgrowth exacerbating each other into a downward spiral of digestive dysfunction.

    Although more testing needs to be done a low-carb diet has in two studies proved very effective at not only reducing the symptoms of GERD but in some cases eliminated them completely.

    It isnt necessary to stay on a low-carb diet permanently. As soon as the symptoms disappear and normal digestive function returns a low to medium low-carb diet should be enough to prevent the symptoms coming back.

    Read Also: Why Am I Getting Heartburn Every Time I Eat

    Chest Pain: Its Not Always A Matter Of The Heart

    There are plenty of other potential suspects when it comes to chest pain.

    Mild or severe discomfort in the middle or left side of the chest that feels like fullness, pressure or squeezing could be a potential sign of a cardiovascular event.Most people experience chest pain at some point, but how do you know if it is a heart attack or simply heartburn or anxiety?

    Understanding the differences between cardiovascular events and other causes of chest pain can save you a trip to the emergency room. It is also important because the discomfort could be caused by other urgent conditions, as well as less serious issues that may point to a chronic medical problem.

    When it comes to cardiovascular causes of chest pain, UAB Medicinecardiologist Gregory Chapman, M.D., says the usual suspects include coronary artery blockages, high blood pressure, and heart valve or rhythm disorders. But there are plenty of other potential suspects. Chapman included a chapter on chest pain diagnosis in his book A Strong and Steady Pulse: Cardiac Stories, which is scheduled for publication in 2021.

    Take symptoms seriously

    In the United States, nearly 6 percent of emergency room patients report chest pain. More than half of those cases involve non-cardiac chest pain, or NCCP, that is caused by heartburn, anxiety or other issues. A staggering 80 percent of patients who complain of chest pain during primary care visits are simply experiencing NCCP.

    Gregory Chapman, M.D.Mimicking a heart attack

    Can Pain Between Shoulder Blades Be Caused By Acid Reflux

    Acid reflux is a fairly common condition in the United States, with over 15 million Americans experiencing heartburn each day. While acid reflux has a variety of symptoms, it rarely progresses to anything an antacid cant fix. But for serious cases of acid reflux, it can manifest in some extremely painful and difficult to manage symptoms, most of which arent typical of your usual episode of heartburn.

    So can acid reflux cause symptoms like acute pain between your shoulder blades? It can, but it usually means its progressed beyond simple heartburn and into Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD. While it can require more treatment than acid reflux, the chest and back pain it causes can be managed.

    Read Also: What Is The Best Home Remedy For Heartburn

    Neck And Shoulder Pain Even When Together Can Have Quite A Few Causes Some Life Threatening

    This is why its natural for GERD sufferers to hope that both neck and shoulder pain is being caused by their GI problems and not something more serious like a heart issue.

    GERD can cause non-cardiac chest pain, begins Dr. Brian Lacy, MD, of Dartmouth Hitchcock Med Center, who specializes in functional disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and is author of the book Healing Heartburn.

    It is usually under the breast bone but can occasionally radiate up into the neck and into the left arm, continues Dr. Lacy.

    However, GERD by itself is unlikely to cause shoulder pain. The key to distinguish neck and shoulder pain is to have the patient see their PCP and do a careful exam.

    Isolated neck and shoulder pain without classic symptoms of reflux is rarely due to GERD. Pyrosis refers to heartburn.

    A careful exam will usually identify the cause of the neck or shoulder pain .

    Another life-threatening cause of both neck and shoulder pain, other than a cardiac problem, is lung cancer.

    This is when the tumor is located in the top of the lungs. Here, it encroaches upon the nerve that passes from the upper part of the chest to your neck.

    However, when this happens, there will likely be other symptoms along with this such as weakening of the hand muscles, a drooping eyelid and/or blurred vision.

    If you have both neck and shoulder pain, dont panic and think you might have lung cancer.

    However, dont assume it might be GERD, either. See your doctor.


    Primary Esophageal Motility Disorders

    Normally, your esophagus contracts to propel the food youve eaten downward into your stomach. An esophageal motility disorder happens when these contractions are irregular or absent.

    Because the contractions arent coordinated, PEMDs can cause chest pain when you swallow. In some cases, this pain may even be mistaken for heart pain . Other symptoms can include:

    • trouble swallowing
    • feeling like something is stuck in your throat

    There are several different types of PEMDs, such as:

    • Diffuse esophageal spasm. These contractions in the esophagus are uncoordinated and disorganized.
    • Nutcracker esophagus. Also called jackhammer esophagus, the contractions in this are coordinated but very strong.
    • Achalasia. The sphincter that leads into the stomach doesnt relax. Achalasia is very rare.

    Its unclear what causes these disorders. They seem to be related to an abnormal functioning of the nerves that control the contractions of the smooth muscles in your esophagus.

    Recommended Reading: Natural Ways To Rid Heartburn

    Are There Potential Complications With Acid Reflux Symptoms

    Usually, acid reflux symptoms cause no complications. In a few cases, continued esophageal damage can lead to scarring, which may cause the esophagus to narrow. The narrowing creates strictures and makes it difficult to swallow. You may have dysphagia, a sensation that food is stuck in your esophagus. In some cases, normal cells in the lining of the esophagus may be replaced by a different type of cell. This is called Barretts esophagus, which can sometimes develop into cancer.

    Severe Form Of Heartburn Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

    When acid regurgitation causes occasional simple heartburn, that is not a problem. However, when the acid exposure is severe, the lining of the lower esophagus becomes inflamed and may cause ulcers to form. GERD refers to this severe damage, not just simple heartburn. Strangely, the rate of GERD is rising dramatically in the United States and Britain. The number of newly diagnosed cases has increased more than five-fold over the past 20 years. The reasons for this increase are unclear.

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    Consider Medical Conditions That Cause Gas Pains

    Besides food and drink, you may have a medical condition that creates gas pains.

    • Heartburn or indigestion can cause stomach acid to leak up into the esophagus and cause sharp chest pains from burping.
    • Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease , can cause air to become trapped in your esophagus. The feeling can cause anxiety, which then leads to a short burst of heart palpitations.
    • Gallbladder disease can cause pains in the chest from excess gas. Youll also experience a loss of appetite, nausea, chills and pale stools with this issue.
    • Inflammatory bowel disease can cause gas build up in the digestive system. In addition to excessive flatulence, Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis can cause abdomen pain, diarrhea or constipation and nausea.

    Contact your primary care provider if you believe you are struggling with one or more of these conditions. They will be able to order numerous tests to help diagnose the root of your problems.

    How To Prevent Heartburn When Working Out

    Why acid reflux causes pain around the heart? – Dr. RameshBabu N

    As exercising is a vital part of your daily regime and should not be avoided, here are some of the best ways to prevent heartburn when working out. Prevent exercise induced heartburn with these tips.

    Sometimes it so happens that the heartburn may not be exercise induced but a serious concern or a genuine heart-related problem. It is very important to understand whether the heartburn is actually exercise induced or whether it is a serious issue, which may require immediate medical attention.

    If you have taken all the preventive measures, but the heartburn fails to cease or if you are suffering from any health issues, it is important to seek medical advice. This will help rule out or treat other problems and allow you to focus on your exercise regime at peace, without getting heartburn when working out.

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    You May Already Know That Gerd Can Cause Chest Pain But What About Severe Or Intense Pain Which Can Frighten People Into Thinking That Their Heart Is In Serious Trouble

    Severe Chest Pain from Exercise: GERD vs. Heart Problem

    Exercise increases the demand for more blood in the heart and skeletal muscles, says Hugh Mai, MD, Director of Endoscopic Ultrasonography and Bariatric Endoscopy, Gastroenterology Division, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore and LifeBridge Health.

    So when chest pain occurs during exercise, the first thing that MUST be ruled out is coronary artery disease because angina can be a signal that the heart is not getting enough blood, explains Dr. Mai.

    Once that is ruled out with the appropriate cardiac tests, other causes should be considered including GERD.

    GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Diagnosing this can wait, but diagnosing a heart problem cannot wait!

    Now lets suppose that a cardiac cause of your severe chest pain during exercise has been ruled out, and other tests point to GERD or acid reflux.

    Dr. Mai continues, Individuals can try taking antacids or taking a medication that suppresses gastric acid before exercising to see if that prevents the chest pain.

    However, if the chest pain still persists, further testing should be done such as an endoscopy, a 24-hour esophageal acid pH study and impedance, and a manometry test to detect if esophageal spasms contractions that cause pain when food is moving through the esophagus are being induced by acid reflux during exercise.

    Think of how painful a muscle spasm in your calf or the arch of your foot is.

    Heartburn Or Heart Attack How To Tell The Difference

    Chest pain can be scary. And its not always easy to tell the difference between heartburn and a heart attack especially since heartburn-like symptoms can be from a heart attack. Columbus Batiste, MD, an interventional cardiologist and chief of cardiology at Kaiser Permanentes Riverside and Moreno Valley Medical Centers in Southern California, breaks down the symptoms and details the importance of knowing if youre at risk for heart disease.

    What is heartburn?

    Heartburn is discomfort or pain that occurs when food and stomach acid back up into the esophagus the tube that leads from the throat to the stomach.

    Common indicators of heartburn include:

    • A burning sensation in the chest or stomach
    • Foul breath and a sour, acidic, or metallic taste in the mouth
    • Increased gas or belching
    • Coughing, especially when lying down
    • Symptoms start after eating or lying down

    You should be able to relieve your symptoms by taking an antacid, like Tums or Rolaids, or by drinking a glass of water with a spoonful of baking soda stirred in it. If heartburn is keeping you from sleeping, propping yourself up in bed can help.

    Contact your doctor for advice if an antacid doesnt temporarily ease your symptoms, this is the first time youve had heartburn, or your symptoms have changed.

    Heart attack signs can vary greatly

    • Back discomfort
    • Lightheadedness

    Silent heart attacks are common

    Another cause of chest pain

    Risk factors for heart disease

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