Are you wondering how long does heartburn last? If yes, you should check out our guide right here on the key things to understand.
If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night with a burning sensation and discomfort, you may have experienced heartburn. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, over 60 million people experience symptoms of heartburn at least once a month, and 15 million experience symptoms of heartburn every day.
It leaves some people asking how long does heartburn last? In this article, we’ll help answer some questions related to heartburn.
Typical Questions: Heartburn or Heart Attack?
Heartburn is a daily struggle for many Americans, which leaves many people asking questions, like:
- Is it possible to have heartburn for days?
- Can I actually have heartburn for a week or longer?
- Does heartburn go away on its own?
- How long should heartburn last?
The one question many people dread asking themselves when they experience heartburn on a daily basis is: Am I having a heart attack?
According to Harvard Medical School, the two often have overlapping symptoms. While the symptoms can feel similar, there are some ways to tell the two apart:
It’s essential to know the signs and symptoms of heartburn. This way, you can get the treatment you need to manage symptoms.
People suffering from heartburn may experience:
- Burning chest pain that starts at the breastbone
- Pain that moves upward through the throat, but not the shoulders
- The sensation that food is coming back up
- A bitter acidic taste at the back of your throat
- Pain becomes worse when you lie down or bend over
Knowing these symptoms is the first step to finding help to manage them. If you are experiencing these symptoms on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to tell your doctor. They can prescribe medication to help manage your heartburn.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the number one killer of Americans each year affecting over 30 million people. Many people who suffer from regular heartburn often wonder if they are indeed experiencing a heart attack as a result of this statistic.
Here are symptoms associated with a heart attack:
- Tightness, pressure, squeezing, or pain usually in the center of your chest
- Pain spreads to the neck area
- Irregular or racing heartbeat
- Cold, clammy skin
- Feeling lightheaded, weak, or dizzy
- Experiencing shortness of breath
- nausea or indigestion that may lead to vomiting
If you are ever unsure of whether it is heartburn or a heart attack, it is best to take precautions and see a doctor right away. Either way, you can get the help you need and ensure that you treat the problem at hand.
What Is Heartburn?
Now that we know some of the symptoms of heartburn let’s answer the question: What is heartburn? Heartburn is also called acid reflux or GERD.
Many people make the common mistake of thinking that heartburn is related to the heart. However, this is not the case.
Heartburn is the result of acid from the stomach entering the esophagus. The acid irritates or damages the lining of the esophagus, which causes the symptoms of heartburn.
The reason acid moves up to the esophagus is that the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens, letting acid move up into the esophagus. If your LES is opening and not closing tightly enough, it leads to heartburn. Two reasons you LES may be having trouble closing are:
- Overeating leads to too much food in your stomach
- Too much pressure in your stomach because of obesity, pregnancy, or constipation
Managing your diet and eating healthy can help manage these symptoms before they start. If you are already experiencing heartburn on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, you’ll want to watch your consumption of acid-producing foods:
- Citrus fruits
- Garlic and onions
- coffee and other caffeinated products
If you are a smoker dealing with symptoms of heartburn, it’s essential to understand that smoking relaxes your LES, so you may want to limit your consumption or find programs to help you quit.
Some other factors that can lead to heartburn are eating food that is high in fats or oils. Stress is also another factor that can cause heartburn.
How Long Does Heartburn Last?
It really depends on a case-by-case basis. Some people may only experience heartburn for several minutes, while others have symptoms that can last hours.
If you are experiencing heartburn only once in a while, it isn’t a serious matter. However, if you find that you are experiencing symptoms associated with heartburn on a daily, or continuous basis, it’s important to tell your doctor as this can lead to other health issues, like:
- Long-term cough
- Inflammation and ulcers on the esophagus
- Difficulty swallowing due to narrow esophageal passages
- Barret’s esophagus, which raises your likelihood of developing esophageal cancer
Many people who suffer from heartburn usually don’t have antacids far away. People may also use over-the-counter medications to help with their frequent acid reflux. Natural remedies involve concoctions of baking soda and water or salt and water to help alleviate the acid in your stomach.
If you’re experiencing acid reflux or heartburn daily, it’s essential to talk to your doctor and receive a prescription to manage your symptoms.
Get the Help You Need, Don’t Wait!
How long does heartburn last? The truth is it depends on the individual. If you’re one of the 15 million Americans experiencing heartburn every day, get the help you need, don’t wait.
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