ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Chest Pain From Acid Reflux

Updated on October 8, 2014

If you suffer from acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you're probably more than familiar with acid reflux chest pain. It's usually felt as a sharp pain or burning sensation in your chest, and it may radiate up into your throat. It often occurs when you exercise or lie down too soon after a meal, or when you just eat the wrong kinds of foods.

What Causes Acid Reflux Chest Pain

GERD is a disorder of the digestive system in which the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle that keeps the stomach's contents in place, does not close tightly, or opens at the wrong time. When that happens, stomach acid and undigested food are able to get back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn or, in more severe cases, chest pain.

Many people who experience acid reflux chest pain for the first time mistake the uncomfortable sensation for a heart attack. In fact, the chest pain associated with acid reflux can closely mimic a heart attack. That's why it's so important to let your doctor know if you've been having pain in your chest. Only a physician can pinpoint the cause of your discomfort and get you feeling better.

If the pain in your chest is caused by GERD, the doctor will probably recommend one or more courses of action, including:

* Weight Loss
* Quitting Smoking
* Eating smaller, more frequent meals
* Acid reflux diet

Smoking and obesity are major risk factors for GERD, but what you eat and when you eat it are also important considerations. Most doctors recommend that you not lie down for three hours after your last meal of the day, and avoid the foods known to cause acid reflux chest pain.

While there is a very large list of foods to avoid on an acid reflux diet, these are the top 5 offenders.

Caffeine and Heartburn

Coffee and other caffeinated drinks are big no-no's for acid reflux sufferers. Studies have shown a strong connection between caffeine and acid reflux chest pain. Caffeine is believed to relax the LES and even trigger increased production of stomach acid, which will lead to acid reflux symptoms.

You can try decaffeinated coffee and caffeine free soft drinks to avoid the burn, but drinking more water is a healthier choice. Water also keeps you hydrated and helps to flush toxins from your system without causing acid reflux symptoms.

Fatty Foods and Acid Reflux chest Pain

Fatty foods can leave you feeling sluggish and bloated, but a diet that's high in fat can have other negative side effects as well. In addition to being a major contributor to high blood cholesterol, foods that are deep fried or high in fat can often trigger acid reflux symptoms. These should be limited on any healthy diet, but acid reflux patients need to be especially careful of foods high in fat.

Spicy Foods

Recent studies have suggested that spicy foods do not necessarily cause heartburn, but there are a lot of GERD sufferers might disagree. Spicy foods can irritate your stomach lining and, if you have chronic acid reflux, that spicy Thai food may very well burn you twice!

Since different people react in different ways to certain foods, spicy foods may not be a problem for you. Try keeping a log of foods that trigger your symptoms. You may be surprised by which foods make the list and which ones do not.

Citrus Fruits and GERD

Citrus fruits are extremely acidic. It's believed that they may even trigger excessive production of stomach acid. You should avoid oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits and juices to help keep reflux symptoms at bay. You should also consider limiting other acidic foods, such as tomatoes or or foods containing tomato products, like pizza.

Alcohol

Alcohol relaxes the LES muscle presure. If you already suffer from acid reflux chest pain, a couple of drinks can make the problem even worse. You may be able to enjoy an occasional adult beverage, but if you overdo it, be prepared to pay the consequences.

If you do enjoy drinking alcoholic beverages, try choosing drinks with a lower alcohol content. It probably won't take you long to learn your limitations.

Other GERD Symptoms

Not everyone who has GERD experiences acid reflux chest pain, or even heartburn. Other common GERD symptoms may include:

* Chronic dry cough
* Difficulty swallowing
* Wheezing or other asthma symptoms

Common Treatments For Acid Reflux Chest Pain

Antacids are fine for soothing occasional heartburn, but if you have chronic acid reflux, they can make the problem even worse. If you experience symptoms more than once or twice a week, it could be a sign of a more serious problem.

If left untreated, GERD can lead to scarring of the esophagus, making it difficult to swallow. Repeated exposure to stomach acid can also cause inflammation of the esophagus, bleeding or ulcers in the esophagus, and possibly esophageal cancer.

If your diet and lifestyle changes aren't helping, don't panic. Your doctor still has other treatment options to pursue. There are many acid reflux medications available, both over the counter and in prescription strength. Among the most effective of these are proton pump inhibitors, like Prilosec and Nexium. These not only restrict production of stomach acid, but can also heal esophageal damage already caused by acid reflux.

H2 blockers like Zantac and Tagamet are also popular, though somewhat less effective than proton pump inhibitors. They typically lessen acid reflux chest pain or other GERD symptoms in about half of all people who have tried them.

Acid Reflux Surgery

If after trying diet changes and acid reflux medications your symptoms still persist, your doctor may order one or more diagnostic tests to determine the severity or other possible causes of your GERD. In addition to the risk factors and acid reflux causes already listed, hiatal hernia is one of the most frequently diagnosed causes of acid reflux.

For patients with a hiatal hernia or severe GERD, surgery may be in order. For those who are not likely to get long term relief from diet and medication, the most common surgical procedure is fundoplication, sometimes called a gastric wrap.

Gastric wrap surgery involves wrapping the top portion of the stomach around the esophagus. This procedure relieves acid reflux chest pain by both repairing a hiatal hernia, if there is one, and strengthening the lower esophageal sphincter.

Because this surgery is generally done through very small incisions, recovery time is shorter than that of other types of surgery, and time in hospital is generally only two to three days.

Learn The Facts About Acid Reflux

One of the best lines of defense against any disease is knowledge. As you learn more about your specific health concern, you'll feel less helpless and gain confidence in your doctor's treatment plan. To learn more about acid reflux chest pain, treatment, or acid reflux surgery, visit the website of the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      reflux 

      6 years ago from USA

      Water is one of the natural acid reflux remedies, When you drink water, it will dilute the stomach acid, carrying away anything that can defy gravity. Having a big glass of water after the meal can make you feel a relief from heartburn and acid reflux.

    • rmr profile imageAUTHOR

      rmr 

      6 years ago from Livonia, MI

      Thanks for the comments!

      samsons1, sorry to hear you've been suffering with this. I've had it for close to 20 years now, but I'm lucky in that it's controlled by meds. I'm all too familiar with the difficulty swallowing, as well. Especially when it comes to meat. I do hope you can find some relief soon.

    • samsons1 profile image

      Sam 

      6 years ago from Tennessee

      voted up and useful! Very good information and well researched. I've got it,(GERD)have to sleep on an inclined pillow at night, but I also have COPD really bad and the doctors won't do the fundoplication for fear that my lungs won't 'kick' back in after surgery. Spent this past Friday night in ER with a piece of meat hung in my lower esophagus, a gastro team was called in and they operated right there in ER, but hey, things could be worse. Enjoyed reading this...

    • dinkan53 profile image

      dinkan53 

      6 years ago from India

      Very informative & clear description about GERD. An ordinary and pure remedy for heartburn is fennel tea. This is found effective in many peoples. Fennel is a one of the component in lot of medicines, which are used to treat acid reflux or heart burn.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)