It is believed that about 30% of human population is afflicted with heartburn. Out of this 30%, approximately 10% humans experience it almost daily. Infrequent episodes of heartburn is generally not taken as a serious threat to health by the medical professionals. However, chronic or frequent occurrence needs proper medical management. If you have heard a lot about heartburn from your neighbors, friends, family members, etc. Wonder what does heartburn feel like, then go through the given account to gather some information. You would be able to understand the sensation well, if you know what makes heartburn to occur.
How Does Heartburn Occur
Digestion of food in the stomach involves action of a very strong acid called hydrochloric acid (HCl), which is released by the parietal cells present in the stomach lining. HCl is so strong that it can eat away tissues, literally present on any part of the body. Stomach is lined with mucous membrane from inside. This arrangement provides it protection from the harmful action of HCl. Esophagus has got no such protective arrangement. If it comes in contact with HCl, it will get destroyed by it. Therefore, a valve called esophageal sphincter is present at the juncture of esophagus and stomach. It remains closed almost all the time and opens occasionally. The esophageal sphincter opens when food ingested has to enter the stomach for digestion and when gas and vomit from the stomach have to leave your body through the mouth. Thus, by remaining closed, esophageal sphincter serves a very important purpose.
Sometimes, esophageal sphincter opens when it is not supposed to, and allows the HCl to splash or seep out of the stomach into the esophagus. It causes damage to the cells present in the esophageal lining. This gives rise to a burning sensation in the chest, which is commonly known as heartburn. There can be several factors that can lead to heartburn. They include side effects of any type of food, medications, over consumption of coffee or tea, chocolate, fried and fatty foods, and a symptom of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD).
What Does Heartburn Feel Like
If you ask 'what does heartburn feel like' to chronic sufferers of heartburn, they are most likely to describe it as a burning sensation in the chest right behind the breastbone that tends to radiate upward toward the neck. They will explain it, as a sensation of pain or discomfort in the chest which generally occurs after eating and lasts for almost two hours, or even more. There are many patients of heartburn who feel it as pain in the chest that tends to aggravate on bending over or lying down, particularly right after eating. They say that during heartburn, they get a feeling of something burning in their throat. Such a sensation is usually accompanied with an unpleasant taste at the back of their throat. The taste can be hot, acidic, sour, or bitter. You will find many heartburn patients who would describe it as a feeling of food being stuck in the middle of the chest or throat and is coming back into the mouth. Heartburn adds to the uneasiness of expecting mothers.
If the discomfort remains even after 7-10 days, visit your doctor and get necessary medical care and attention.