The Difference Between Acid Reflux Symptoms and Heartburn

By: Eddie Hudd

If you have noticed that you feel great before eating a meal but then suffer from a painful burning sensation in the throat or chest just below or behind the breastbone, after you have finished dining, you could be suffering from either heartburn or acid reflux symptoms.

Heartburn is one of the main symptoms of acid reflux and is usually associated with poor digestion. After eating foods that have high acidic content, heartburn sufferers may notice a burning sensation or pressure in the upper chest. The pain sometimes radiates to your neck or throat. Heartburn occurs when stomach acid comes back into the lower throat region, which happens because the lower oesophageal sphincter muscle or LES is not functioning, as it should. The LES is like a small one-way valve that lets food go into the stomach but prevents the hydrochloric acid produced by your stomach from coming back out into the oesophagus.

If you notice that any of the symptoms of heartburn seem to stay with you for long periods or come on after every meal or snack, the chances are that you could be suffering from acid reflux. Acid reflux symptoms can include persistent heartburn and stomach acid regurgitation although it is quite possible to have acid reflux without suffering heartburn.

Acid reflux normally occurs after eating certain foods such as tomatoes, onions, garlic, fried foods and citrus fruits. Other culprits include tea, coffee and fruit juice drinks. There are many other foods and drinks that can bring on acid reflux but what affects one sufferer may not bother the next person.

To find out what brings on acid reflux in your particular case, you will need to note down what you are eating and which meals and drinks cause the burning sensation in your throat and chest. Once you have figured out which meals cause the problem, try reducing your consumption of these foods one at a time. For instance, if you eat a ham salad and you end up with acid reflux after finishing it, try cutting out the onions from the next one. If that does not make any difference, do not include tomatoes in the next meal and so on. If you do not feel any improvement after this process of elimination, cut out all of these foods from your diet and monitor yourself for about a week to see how you feel.

There are other lifestyle choices that contribute to your acid reflux symptoms. Smoking, excess alcohol consumption and being overweight can all be contributing factors to acid reflux.

Many mothers-to-be experience acid reflux during their pregnancy even when they eat foods that do not normally cause them any problem. The advice if you are expecting, is to drink plenty of water, and refrain from drinking the likes of soda, orange juice, and coffee.

Rather than resorting to prescription medication, there are some things you can do yourself in order to reduce the symptoms you are experiencing. Taking a short walk after every meal and eating foods such as salmon or almonds that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids can be a big help. Avoid eating heavy meals such as lasagne and pizza or if you do, try to consume only small portions. If you know already that certain food or drinks trigger heartburn or acid reflux symptoms, the simple answer is to avoid those things completely.

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