You wake up in the middle of the night to pain radiating from your chest. Could this be it? Are you about to take the plunge into the unknown and say your final goodbyes to the ones you love? It’s possible…or maybe you just need to take a Tums and lay off the buffalo wings before b
The scenario sounds almost laughable, but if you’ve ever suffered from severe chronic heartburn you’ll understand that a heart attack and heartburn have very similar symptoms, which makes it confusing and alarming to determine what’s happening if you start experiencing them. It’s not uncommon for people to mistake severe heartburn for a heart attack, or vice versa.
The following list will help make the differences a little clearer.
Heart Attacks Cause Sudden Crushing Chest Pain
The most common symptom of a heart attack for both men and women is chest pain or discomfort. This is why if you go the emergency room and complain about chest pain they will immediately test you to see if you are having a heart attack. Unfortunately, the most common symptom of heartburn also happens to be chest pain and discomfort, which makes it difficult to distinguish between the two. Something to keep in mind? While both heart attacks and heartburn cause pain in the chest area, heartburn does not usually radiate to the shoulders, neck or arms. It’s possible, but extremely rare.
Heartburn Usually Comes After Meals
If you just polished off a plate of nacho cheese fries and you start having pain in your chest then sure, you could technically be having a heart attack, but chances are it’s just heartburn. Especially if you burp shortly after and the pain goes away.
Heartburn Usually Responds To Heartburn Medication
If you take heartburn medication while you’re experiencing a painful episode and it works, it was probably heartburn that was causing your symptoms. A heart attack won’t go away if you pop a Tums.
Heartburn Is Not Usually Accompanied By Cold Sweats
Unless you just got done running around in the snow, heartburn is not usually accompanied by cold sweats, lightheadedness, or dizziness. If you are experiencing these symptoms and a pain in your chest, you should seek medical attention.
Heartburn Is Accompanied By An Acidic Taste In The Back of Your Throat
People suffering from chronic heartburn can tell you that heartburn is usually accompanied by an acidic taste in the back of your throat. That’s because heartburn is the result of stomach acid splashing back up into your esophagus (aka acid reflux). If you taste acid at the back of your throat during heartburn, that’s because you actually have acid in the back of your throat.
Anyone who’s had severe heartburn knows that it’s no laughing matter. The pain is incredibly real, and the symptoms can be terrifying. Although it’s a relief to learn later that you’ve avoided a more serious diagnosis like a heart attack, living with chronic heartburn is a painful experience that no one should have to have. Although heartburn medications may work for quick relief and help set your mind at ease about what’s happening, it’s important to determine what’s causing your heartburn so that you can treat the root cause and find long-term relief. Schedule a time to sit down with a reflux specialist, it will go a long way towards avoiding awkward ER embarrassments and finding a treatment that truly rids you of heartburn for good.