Can Acid Reflux Cause Severe Chest Pain?

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Acid reflux is an issue that affects many people throughout the United States.

In fact, around 60% of the adult population in the US will experience some form of acid reflux within a year.

And of those who are affected, around 20 to 30% of people deal with these symptoms weekly.

Many of those who have acid reflux find themselves in hospitals due to the pain that they are feeling.

Pain Description of Acid Reflux

There are several pain symptoms that go along with having acid reflux.

These pain symptoms include:

  • Painful burning sensation in the chest
  • An upset stomach
  • Sore throat that is persistent
  • A dry cough
  • Feeling fullness in the stomach despite having not eaten much
  • Discomfort in the upper abdomen
  • Intense nausea after eating

Other symptoms that are associated with acid reflux that may not be as well-known include:

  • Having the hiccups that are sudden and last for a long period
  • Burping
  • Regurgitation
  • Having the sensation of food being stuck in the throat, known as dysphagia
  • Bloody vomiting
  • Feeling bloated
  • Bloody or black stools

What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is also known as GERD, which is gastroesophageal reflux disease. This is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter or LES, for short.

This is the ring of muscle that is located between the esophagus and the stomach.

With a normal functioning LES, the muscle will close as soon as food passes through.

However, those who suffer with acid reflux will find that the muscle opens more often or stays open longer than once they eat.

Due to this, the acid then moves up into the stomach, which can then move into the esophagus, causing the symptoms described above.

What Causes Acid Reflux?

There are several causes of acid reflux that a person must know to identify just why they may be having these symptoms.

Some of the well-known causes are:

  1. Eating a large meal
  2. Lying down right after eating a meal
  3. Being overweight
  4. Bending over at the waist after eating a large meal
  5. Snacking too close to the time in which you go to bed
  6. Eating certain foods such as tomatoes, chocolate, mint, onions, spicy or fatty foods
  7. Drinking alcohol, carbonated beverages, coffee or tea
  8. Smoking
  9. Women who are pregnant often have acid reflux
  10. Taking blood pressure medications, aspirin, ibuprofen, or muscle relaxers can cause acid reflux to act up

Chest Pain with Acid Reflux

Many people who have acid reflux will have times in which their chest does hurt. For many, this is why they term that they have “heart burn”.

However, there are those who find that the chest pain is immense. In fact, many people go to the emergency room since they believe they may be having a heart attack!

In many cases, a person will describe this pain as being a dull ache. While others may describe this as being a painful burning sensation.

The cause of this chest pain is that the acid has escaped from the stomach and has reached the esophagus.

When this first happens to a person, they often feel as though they are having the first signs of a heart attack. However, it is not a heart attack.

Can Acid Reflux Cause Severe Chest Pain

The Common and Different Symptoms Between Heart Attack and Heartburn

Heartburn or acid reflux does share a common symptom with a heart attack, hence the reason so many people confuse acid reflux for having a heart attack.

In fact, many physicians state that to tell the difference between the two pains is somewhat hard, which is why a test is often completed to rule out a heart attack.

When you have acid reflux, there are some signs that can point to this being acid reflux and not something more serious.

These signs include:

  • It often starts as a burning sensation in the abdomen and then moves up to the chest
  • You may have ate recently
  • You may also have a sour taste in our mouth or regurgitation

The signs of a heart attack include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pressure, aching or a squeezing sensation in the chest or arms
  • Cold sweat
  • Extremely tired
  • Having sudden dizziness or being lightheaded

Through knowing the differentiating signs of each, you can best narrow down what the issue may be.

In any event, if you fear that you are having a heart attack, then going to the emergency room is the best option.

Here, doctors can rule out a heart attack or treat you for this, if this is the case.

Treating Acid Reflux

Due to the pain that many people are in when they do have acid reflux, it is important that they get treatment.

In addition, after suffering with acid reflux overtime, this can greatly affect the esophagus and stomach lining in the long term, causing more issues.

Some of the ways in which doctors may suggest this issue is treated, includes:

  1. Do not wear tight clothing around the waist, specifically belts
  2. Medications like antacids can be used when this flares up
  3. Prescription medications can be given to help relax the LES so that the acid reflux is controlled. These medications are taken daily, not just when you start to show signs of issues.
  4. East smaller meals six times per day instead of 3 large meals.
  5. Sleep on an incline, at least four to six inches higher than your feet.
  6. Do not smoke or drink as this can make the acid reflux even worse.

Acid reflux can be painful. It can cause a person to feel as though they are having a heart attack.

However, it is something that you can treat and prevent with the proper diet and lifestyle.

Do not let acid reflux control your life!

And remember that if you do have chest pains, be sure to get medical attention if you believe these are something more than acid reflux.