How Do I Know If I Have Heartburn Or Something Else?

If you’ve recently had bariatric surgery, you might be experiencing a little bit of heartburn. Having heartburn after bariatric surgery is completely normal, but if you’re experiencing it often, then you might be a little worried.

The symptoms of heartburn can often be confused with other conditions. However, if they exist with other, seemingly unrelated symptoms, then the issue might be a little more serious. We’re here to explain what heartburn actually is and why your heartburn symptoms are not always what you think they are.

What Is Heartburn Exactly?

Everyone who has experienced heartburn knows what it feels like, but what exactly is going on when you have heartburn?

What you feel as “heartburn” is actually esophageal irritation caused by stomach acid. It’s not caused by a burning in your heart. The reason it happens is because stomach acid leaks in from your lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES opens and closes to let food in or to let gas out.

Symptoms of heartburn include burning chest pain, painful burps, or a burning in your throat.

Most of the time, heartburn is easily treated by taking an antacid. This usually helps relieve symptoms while the heartburn goes away on its own. If this doesn’t help, though, you may be dealing with something more serious.

What Else Could It Be?

For most people, heartburn is no big deal. It happens occasionally after eating a particularly large, fatty, or spicy meal. If this happens, then the solution is simple: stop eating large, fatty, or spicy meals.

However, some people experience constant or regular heartburn. This is most likely a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a disease that, if left untreated, can cause irreversible damage to the lining of the esophagus. If you think you have symptoms of GERD, see a doctor.

Heartburn is also a symptom of a hiatal hernia. These usually don’t need treatment, but if you’re experiencing heartburn along with severe abdominal pain, you may want to get that checked out ASAP as it could become twisted and cut off the blood supply.

If You’re Concerned, See A Doctor

Don’t read this article and think that you know what your symptoms actually are. If you have heartburn symptoms and are still somewhat concerned about them, particularly if you just had bariatric surgery, then go see a doctor and let them know about your symptoms.

Keep in mind that heartburn symptoms do share similarities with symptoms of a heart attack. Don’t let this worry you, though: if you also have other symptoms of a heart attack along with pain that feels like heartburn, call 911 right away. Doing so could save your life.

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