What Does Heartburn Feel Like? or is it Acid Reflux?

If you have to ask What does heartburn feel like? Then you must be unsure whether the burning discomfort you are feeling in your chest or throat is heartburn or acid reflux?

Most people who experience severe heartburn have no idea what is wrong with their bodies and end up trying all sorts of medications in an effort to remedy the situation. It almost feels like you can’t breath and have trouble swallowing your own saliva.

This article explains what it feels like and steps you can take to treat it.

What is Heartburn & Acid Reflux?

It is an irritating burning sensation felt just behind the breastbone.

Heartburn occurs when there is a reflux of acids that help in digestion, back into the esophagus. The esophagus does not have a protective layer that helps prevent irritation or inflammation thus causing heartburn.


A man with chest pains that feels like heartburn, is in dire need of a remedy for his acid reflux.

What Causes It?

There are various common foods that stimulate the increase in stomach acid. Some medicines are also known to precipitate heartburn.

Some common irritants include aspirin, acidic juices such as pineapple, orange and grape fruit, carbonated beverages, alcohol and caffeine among others. Smoking and taking in foods high in fat affect normal function of the lower part of the oesophagus, allowing acid reflux.

Other causes of heartburn include; pregnancy (women who are pregnant feel this pain all too often), obesity and hiatal hernia.

So What Does Acid Reflux Feel Like?

It is usually felt as a burning feeling behind the sternum that radiates upwards towards the throat.

Some people may experience a feeling of pain or pressure behind the breastbone after taking a meal. This feeling can last up to two hours in some cases.

Chest pain that occurs when lying down or bending over may also be a sign of heartburn.

This is especially so when it occurs right after eating. Some people also experience a burning sensation in the throat. This sensation will then be accompanied by sour, hot or acidic taste that can rise all the way up to the mouth.

A feeling of food sticking in the middle of the throat or chest, or food coming back into the mouth may also be an indication of what heartburn feels like.

There are many steps you can take to relieve yourself from heartburn. For instance, you can try eating smaller doses of food frequently to ensure each meal swallowed is well digested. Avoiding food right before bedtime may also help prevent heartburn.

This is because food is best digested when one is in an inclined position. If it occurs right after taking a particular meal, you may be able to prevent heartburn by avoiding them.

Common causes for this include:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Cigarette
  • Prescription medicine
  • Ibuprofen
  • Aspirin

Most of them are known to either contain a lot of acid or interfere with digestions, causing heartburn.

If heartburn occurs while you are lying on the bed, you can relieve yourself of the irritation by elevating your head in order to keep the acid inside your stomach.

As usual, if heartburn symptoms persist, then you are advised to seek medical attention. It may be as a result of a more serious medical problem that needs to be diagnosed by a professional.

When treating heartburn, whether using natural or over the counter treatments, it is important that you do your research to ensure the product does not harm you further.

Some over the counter medicine, such as Tums, may solve the problem but at the same time cause other side effects. As long as you stay within the prescribed dosage amount you should be fine (after all it is just calcium carbonate which works because it binds with the food you ate and neutralizes its acidic effects)). The same goes for natural treatments such as the ones mentioned on this article.

Watch this short video for more detail on exactly what does acid reflux feel like: