If you’re the type of person that likes to enjoy your food, then you’ve probably felt the effects of heartburn before. For most people suffering heartburn, there’s only a relatively mild discomfort. Sure, it’s nagging and annoying, but it’s nothing that we take as being a serious condition.
When we suffer from heartburn, we may experience:
- Sharp burning in the chest/throat area
- Difficulty swallowing
- The feeling of food being stuck in our throats
- A sore throat
- An acidic-tasting liquid in our throats
- Pain in the chest
By and large, heartburn can be knocked out with a few remedies, including over the counter antacids and, of course, better eating habits. If you eat the right foods, eat slowly, eat at the right times, refrain from heavy activity or sleeping after eating, and other steps, you can control heartburn. Some people with chronic heartburn, regardless of how much they try, may experience recurring symptoms and may be the victims of other afflictions.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Known as GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or acid reflux disease, is the result of mucosal damage brought on by stomach acid shooting up from the stomach and into the esophagus. Sufferers of this syndrome will experience typical heartburn symptoms, but they will not be able to control it as with regular heartburn.
This affliction is usually caused by changes in the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus, and thus “food” has little to do with the condition. As far as the symptom list, simply refer to the heartburn symptom list above. They are the exact same, 100%, only GERD is a chronic condition. Chronic heartburn could be GERD and if you suffer from heartburn, even after controlling your diet and taking regular antacids, you should consult a doctor and take prescription drugs to correct it. If left untreated, GERD can lead to cancer, ulcers in the stomach and esophagus, a narrowing of the esophagus, and intestinal metaplasia.
Ischemic Heart Disease
Ischemic heart disease (IHD) is the more serious disease you have to worry about masking itself as heartburn. IHD happens with the heart’s blood supply is reduced, usually the result of coronary artery disease. Like all heart diseases, risks for IHD increase with age, smoking, eating habits, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain genetic factors.
Most of IHD’s symptoms sinisterly mimic heartburn, so many people go years with IHD while thinking that it is heartburn, and many unfortunately suffer from heart attacks as a result. But while IHD does present the same symptoms as heartburn, there are also more symptoms to be aware of:
- Angina (chest pain when exerted and sometimes while at rest)
- Decreased exercise tolerance
- Worsening pain even after antacids
- Cold sweats
- Radiant pain, spreading to arms and jaw
- Tightness is center of chest
If you have heartburn-like symptoms associated with IHD symptoms, it is of the upmost importance that you see a doctor immediately. Mistaking IHD for heartburn can lead to death or, at the least, heart disease that is much harder to treat. Fortunately, if caught in time, IHD can be well treated with a host of medications, the proper diet and exercise program, proper rest and lifestyle change.