Pin Me

What Does Heartburn Feel Like? How to Tell If You Have Heartburn

written by: Rochelle Connery • edited by: Stephanie Mojica • updated: 3/14/2011

What does heartburn feel like? Chronic heartburn has certain triggers while a one-time bout of heartburn feels different. This guide will help you determine the difference between experiencing heartburn due to something you ate or whether you’re getting chronic heartburn.

  • slide 1 of 3

    What Does One-Time Heartburn Feel Like?

    What does heartburn feel like if you’ve never had heartburn before? If you do not have chronic heartburn, you might not be getting chronic heartburn just because you’re experiencing discomfort after eating. A bloating meal, spicy food or something that didn’t agree with your stomach can cause one-time heartburn that causes hours of discomfort after you eat.

    Here are some symptoms of a heartburn spell:

    • Tingling, burning sensation in your chest, probably in line with your esophagus and just below the back of your throat. You might feel it all the way down your esophagus, or you might just have that “packed-in” feeling where the heartburn centralizes just beside your heart.
    • Pooling liquid in the back of your throat: It might feel like a lot of liquid, but it’s probably not that much. However, that “backwash” probably hurts – it might sting like a sore throat, and it feels nearly impossible to swallow back down.
    • Discomfort bending over, kneeling down or lifting objects can be one indication of what heartburn feels like. You might feel like your food just got regurgitated, or you might feel like your stomach just surged into your chest.

    You might also feel bloated or stuffed in your stomach if you’re experiencing these problems. If the food bothered you, you might also feel the urge to run to the bathroom.

  • slide 2 of 3

    What Does Chronic Heartburn Feel Like?

    What does heartburn feel like when it’s about to become permanent? Once you get chronic heartburn, you’ll experience the same symptoms as above. But as you’re contracting the disease, you’ll likely experience the following:

    • Difficulty swallowing your food: We’re not just talking about food getting stuck in your throat, although that can be the case as well. You might not be able to squeeze food down the back of your throat, period, even if it’s something as simple as water. You’ll feel like you have an enormous phantom lump, but your throat might not be sore.
    • Continual, loud burping: Empty burping is another indication of chronic heartburn. Even if you’re not eating, you might experience enormous bursts of belching. Sometimes these might be slightly painful.
    • Constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth: Since heartburn prompts stomach acid to travel up the esophagus, you might continually experience a nasty, bitter taste on your tongue or in the back of your throat.
    • Pain when lying down: You might begin to notice acid traveling back up your throat when you sleep at night. Some individuals end up tipping the head of the bed up a few inches so that the body remains slightly inclined during sleep to prevent this occurrence.
    • Chest burning when stressed out: Heartburn sometimes responds to stress, even if you haven’t eaten recently. You might feel burning pangs in your chest and throat when stressing out or getting anxious.

    Although each of these aren’t proof positive that you have chronic heartburn, all of them or several at a time might very well indicate that chronic heartburn is on its way.

  • slide 3 of 3

    References

    Author's personal experience with chronic heartburn.

    WebMD: Heartburn Symptoms. http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/guide/heartburn-symptoms