For those of you with chronic heartburn symptoms, the next time you get a burning sensation in the chest, do not ignore it. It can be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
Apart from GERD, heartburn can also mimic the symptoms of more serious underlying diseases. Here are few disease conditions that can cause heartburn-like symptoms.
1) Heart diseases
A sensation of heartburn felt in the chest area can be angina or chest pain. It is caused due to the lack of blood flow to the heart. A feeling like this should not be taken lightly, especially if your age is over 50 years and you have hypertension, diabetes, or a family history of heart diseases. Seek the help of your family doctor to rule out any kind of heart diseases.
2) Stomach ulcers
Heartburn can be a symptom of stomach ulcers. The pain starts in the upper abdomen and works its way up towards the chest; you may confuse it with heartburn. See you doctor to rule out stomach ulcers. Doctors may treat it with antacids. Long-term use of certain medications like aspirin and naproxen can also cause stomach ulcers.
Gallstones are small crystalline mass that can cause severe pain in the mid or upper abdominal region by blocking the bile duct. This pain can move up towards the chest and confuse you to mistake it for heartburn. Seek doctor’s advice. He may prescribe some acid suppressing medications as well as make some dietary changes.
Gastroparesis is a condition wherein the stomach cannot empty itself due to vagus nerve damage; vagus nerves regulate digestive system. Heartburn can also be a symptom of gastroparesis. Heartburn is caused due to the slow moving of the food through the stomach. Seek medical attention. Doctors may treat gastroparesis with few dietary changes which include eating smaller portions of meals, completely avoiding fat, and certain medications.. In severe cases, a device is implanted in the stomach to pass electrical pulses to cause stomach contractions.
5) Esophageal cancer
Rare but if you have chronic heartburn problems, it can be esophageal cancer. See your doctor and seek his help. He may order an esophageal endoscopy to rule out esophageal cancer.
6) Hiatal hernia
Many people with hiatal hernia do not experience heartburn but some may. Hiatal hernia is caused due to the protrusion of the stomach through the esophageal opening in the diaphragm into the chest cavity. This can lead to heartburn. Consult your doctor and get his advice. He may prescribe antacids and a few dietary changes. He may also tell you to completely avoid alcohol and smoking. Severe cases of hiatal hernia may need surgical intervention.
Esophagitis can cause heartburn and swallowing difficulty. It is inflammation of the esophagus caused by the use of some chronic painkillers. Steroid medications are prescribed by the doctor to ease out the pain.
Anxiety causes heartburn. If you have anxiety-induced heartburn, taking acid-suppressing medications won’t help. Yoga, daily exercise, relaxation techniques, and stress management therapies can ease out your heartburn. Reduce anxiety and live a healthy life.