The 5 signs you're suffering heartburn – that's often mistaken for chest pain

BURNING in your chest, a sour taste in your mouth, or hiccups that just won't go away, heartburn can be disruptive to our daily lives.

Around 25 per cent of adults in the UK experience heartburn and it's more than likely that you will suffer from it at some point in your life.

The NHS says that there is no obvious reason why people get heartburn but said that it's likely your symptoms will be worse when standing up, bending down or after eating.

Certain food and drinks can heighten your chances of experiencing heartburn while being overweight can also trigger this.

Heartburn is however often mistaken for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) as it is the most common symptom of the condition.

GERD can cause long term damage and if left untreated can lead to precancerous condition, Barrett's oesophagus.

But what are the most common signs or heartburn and how can you tell the difference between this and GERD?

1. Burning in the chest

Research from Nexium Control found that 51 per cent of people suffer heartburn in the summer and the main symptom is burning in the chest.

This is caused by the valve at the bottom of the oesophagus letting stomach acid escape into the oesophagus.

It sometimes travels upwards towards the throat.

If you're experiencing severe heartburn then it can feel similar to the symptoms a person may experience when they are having a heart attack – if the pain becomes unbearable you should seek medical attention.

Nutritionist Lily Soutter said heartburn can be down to a lower oesophageal sphincter that doesn’t tighten as it should.

2. A sour taste in your mouth

It might be that you've just not brushed your teeth properly today – but that sour taste in your mouth could also be a sign of heartburn.

Lily said that overeating can put internal pressure on the stomach and stomach acid can then get pushed into the oesophagus which can contribute to reflux.

It's the acid that gives you a sour and unpalatable taste.

Drinking alcohol can also increase your risk of acid reflux so if you're suffering from heartburn then you probably shouldn't have that extra glass of wine.

If you have GERD you might have difficultly swallowing and at times you may also regurgitate your food.

3. Hiccups

Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm.

Contractions are followed by a sudden closure of your diaphragm which leads to the sounds being omitted.

Hiccups or a cough that keep coming back are a sign of heartburn but it's less common than acid reflux.

Lily says that fast eating and insufficient chewing can cause heartburn and suggested that a good way to slow down would be to put your knife and fork down after every bite.

4. Bloating and feeling sick

If you're feeling sick and a little bit round then you might be suffering with heartburn.

Lily says that certain foods can increase these symptoms and added that it's important that you find what foods trigger your heartburn.

Dr Sarah Jarvis added: "Common offenders include fatty and spicy foods, as well as coffee and alcoholic drinks.

"Avoid eating heavy meals near bedtime to allow your stomach time to digest before lying down.

"Not wearing tight clothes around your tummy and losing weight will also help by reducing pressure on the stomach."

5. Hoarse voice

When suffering from heartburn, acid can often come up to the throat.

This can in turn cause chronic swelling of the vocal chords which will lead to your voice sounding a little out of tune.

The NHS says that this can be prevented by raising one end of your bed 10 to 20cm by putting something under your bed or mattress.

They recommend making it so that your chest and head are above the level of your waist, so stomach acid does not travel up towards your throat.

How to treat heartburn?

A pharmacist will usually be able to help if you are experiencing heartburn by recommending over the counter medication that can help quell the symptoms and soothe your throat.

Medicine will usually neutralise the acid in your stomach.

The NHS says that there are also other ways to stop heart burn from reoccurring which include; losing weight, trying to relax and stopping smoking.

For more severe cases of heartburn though, Dr Sarah recommended proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole as this blocks the release of acid at the source.

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