Is Heartburn a Sign of Something More Serious? Part 2 | RMHP Blog

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Is Heartburn a Sign of Something More Serious? Part 2

Serious Conditions That Mimic Heartburn

 

In a previous blog post, we discussed several serious health conditions that could be signaled by chronic heartburn: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Barrett’s Esophagus and (very rarely) esophageal cancer.

 

Let’s continue the discussion with six more medical conditions that cause pain that mimics the sensations you feel with heartburn.

 

1. Heart disease

 

Chest pain caused by lack of blood flow to the heart can feel a lot like heartburn. Timing of the pain is the key. If the pain occurs after you’ve been active, it’s cause for concern.

 

Heart disease is more likely to be an issue for older people, but younger people aren’t without risk.

 

2. Gallstones

 

Many people don’t even know they have gallstones, but the placement of the stone can lead to heartburn-like symptoms, especially after eating. This happens if a stone is blocking your bile duct.

 

3. Hiatal hernia


This type of hernia occurs when part of the upper stomach pokes through your diaphragm from the abdominal cavity into your chest cavity.

 

Food and stomach acid are pushed up into your esophagus causing heartburn. You might also have chest pain, burping, and nausea. Your doctor may recommend acid-suppressing medicine, smaller meals, no alcohol, and not eating before bedtime. Only extreme cases warrant surgery.

 

4. Ulcers

 

Ulcers can sometimes cause chest pain, again, feeling like heartburn. Your doctor might recommend acid-suppressing medicines to relieve the pain.

 

However, ulcers are often caused by a type of bacteria that leads to inflammation of the stomach lining. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to beat the infection.

 

5. Pleuritis or costochondritis

 

Inflammation causes heartburn-like chest pain in these two conditions. Pleuritis is caused by an infection that inflames the lining of the lungs and the chest wall. When you take a deep breath or move, the pain tends to increase.

 

Costochondritis is inflammation of the cartilage attaching your ribs to your breastbone, and it can cause sharp pains along your breastbone or sternum. The condition can be caused by injury or infection and is often treated with anti-inflammatory medicine, pain relievers, and rest.

 

6. Anxiety

 

Anxiety could be contributing to your chronic heartburn. Stress increases stomach acid buildup and muscle tension leading to increased pressure around your stomach muscles. The resulting frequent heartburn can increase your risk of developing ulcers.

 

If you’re concerned about frequent or persistent heartburn, make an appointment with your doctor. He or she will pinpoint the cause of your pain and recommend the most appropriate and effective treatment plan.

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