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Symptoms of heartburn

Reviewed by Edward Jones, MD
Symptoms of heartburn

Through learning about the signs and symptoms of heartburn, you will be able to notice them and recognise them at the earliest possible time so that you get the necessary treatment quickly. Heartburn is the most common symptom of a digestive condition called gastroesophageal reflux condition, also known as GERD for short. In this condition stomach acid travels back into the oesophagus, potentially causing it some damage. Most people who suffer from heartburn have different triggers that cause it, but in most cases the symptoms of heartburn are similar.  The most common ones include:

  • A burning feeling in the chest, which often starts behind the breastbone but sometimes travels up and into the back of the throat. In most cases it occurs straight after eating and may last a few minutes up to a few hours.


  • A burning sensation in the throat is usually located high in the neck and becomes worse when attempting to swallow. This feeling is a result of the stomach acid refluxing up into the throat and causing some irritation.


  • A sour taste in the mouth can occur as a result of the stomach acid being tasted in the back of the mouth or throat. It can taste sour or bitter and is one of the most common symptoms of heartburn.


  • Difficulty swallowing is another of the potential symptoms of heartburn and can happen when pieces of food have difficulty travelling from the mouth and down the oesophagus into the stomach. The sensation can feel as though there are bits of food stuck in the throat or chest. It can also seem to cause pressure in the chest or the feeling of choking. Difficulty swallowing is a symptom of many other health conditions so if you persistently suffer from this, you should report it to your doctor and be properly diagnosed. It could be something more serious such as erosive esophagitis or esophageal cancer.


  • Chronic coughing is another one of the common symptoms of heartburn and GERD turned out to be the reason for chronic coughing in 41% percent of cases that were not smokers. When stomach acid refluxes back into the oesophagus it is very likely to cause coughing.


  • Wheezing and other symptoms often associated with asthma are common symptoms of heartburn and GERD. In fact a link between the two conditions have been found suggesting that around 60% of people with asthma also have GERD. Only 10% percent of people who do not have asthma suffer from GERD. The refluxed acid is thought to interfere with the airways and lungs leading to difficulty breathing, wheezing and coughing.

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