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Heartburn symptoms

  • Burning in the chest that usually occurs after a meal, mostly at night
  • Pain or feeling of choking arising when you lie down or bend over
  • Bitter or acidic taste at the back of the throat or the mouth

These symptoms are commonly a result of eating certain foods or overeating. They can be treated with over-the-counter solution like Gaviscon, that’s lasts upto 2X longer vs. ordinary antacids* (depending upon the severity). However, sometimes, severe heartburn symptoms could be a sign of bigger problems.

Let’s take a look at what other situations could be mistaken for just heartburn and what should you do for the same.

Frequent heartburn

Acidity and heartburn go hand-in-hand. However, heartburn can be caused by something more than just common acidity. If you are experiencing heartburn more than twice a week, it could be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

GERD is a digestive disorder wherein the lower oesophageal sphincter or LES is affected. The LES connects the oesophagus to the stomach and prevents digestive acid from the stomach from travelling back into the oesophagus. If the LES is weakened, the stomach acid leaks into the oesophagus causing heartburn.

If GERD is not detected and treated early, it can lead to severe heartburn symptoms and complications.

Difficulty swallowing

GERD is also responsible for esophagitis, which is an inflammation of the oesophageal tissue. Esophagitis makes swallowing difficult or painful along with heartburn. At times, severe heartburn causes sore throat as well.

Pain in the abdomen 

If you are experiencing heartburn accompanied by severe pain in the abdomen or a feeling of bloating, you may have gastritis.

Gastritis is caused due to the inflammation of the stomach lining. The reasons for gastritis may be an infection, bacteria, chronic vomiting or excessive use of alcohol or certain inflammatory drugs.

Continuous cough or hiccups

If you are suffering from a persistent cough or hiccups, it may be caused by hiatal hernia. In this condition, a part of the stomach slips through a hole in the diaphragm, which is the muscle between the stomach and the chest. The diaphragm is crucial in the breathing process.

Hiatal hernia is also a major reason for heartburn and should not be taken lightly. Also, watch out for additional symptoms like nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath or chest and abdominal pain.

Vomiting or nausea

GERD, hiatal hernia, or esophagitis can cause nausea and vomiting. All three can result in regurgitation, leading to heartburn and sour taste, which can make you feel nauseated and lose appetite, further leading to vomiting.

 

Extreme nausea and vomiting can also be a sign of a heart attack.

Heartburn is quite common and usually harmless when mild. However, as explained above, it could be a result of other severe problems. Hence, if your heartburn symptoms persist or become severe, please consult a doctor.

*Comparing Gaviscon with select ordinary antacid

  1. Chevrel B. A comparative crossover study on the treatment of heartburn and epigastric pain: Liquid Gaviscon and a magnesium--aluminium antacid gel. J Int Med Res. 1980;8(4):300-2.
  2. Mandel KG etal. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2000 Jun;14(6):669-90

^Claim based on information aggregated and reported in part from data supplied by Nielsen through its Retail Measurement Services for the defined category (RB defined) for the 12 month period ending June 2020, for the defined RB geographic focus.

*Comparing Gaviscon with select ordinary antacid

I. Chevrel B. A comparative crossover study on the treatment of heartburn and epigastric pain: Liquid Gaviscon and a magnesium--aluminium antacid gel. J Int Med Res. 1980;8(4):300-2.

II. Mandel KG etal. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2000 Jun;14(6):669-90

Article published July 1, 2021