Burning Sensation in Chest

There are many causes of chest pain or that burning sensation in chest. Luckily, most of them are not severe and can easily be treated. In most cases, especially the first time, people do not understand why they get a burning feeling in chest. In this case, they may suspect heartburn, peptic ulcer or even heart attack. If you experience a burning sensation in the chest, visit your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. However, if you are experiencing serious pain accompanied by other symptoms, you might need emergency help. Now let's take a close look at the main causes. 

Burning Sensation in Chest: Is It Heartburn or Heart Attack?

Mostly burning pain in chest is a result of acid reflux, though it is normal to worry about a heart attack. Here are symptoms of both heartburn and heart attack that can help differentiate them.

1. It’s Heartburn If You Feel:

  • Burning sensation behind the breastbone after eating and lasting for several hours or a few minutes
  • Pain in the chest after eating, bending and lying down
  • Chest pain sometimes radiating to shoulders, arms and neck
  • Antacids often providing quick relief
  • Burning in your throat, or having acidic, sour, hot or salty fluid at the back of your throat
  • Difficulties in swallowing
  • Food stuck mid-way through the chest or throat
  • Sore throat, chronic cough or hoarseness
  • Rarely cold sweats maybe experienced

2. It’s Heart Attack If You Feel:

  • Dull pressure, tightness, fullness or pain at the center of your chest
  • Like a belt is being tightened around your chest
  • Sudden pressure or chest pain that accelerates
  • Pain spreading to arms, neck and jaws
  • The pain responds to nitroglycerin
  • Other symptoms like shortness of breath, cold sweats, dizziness or lightheadedness

If heart attack is suspected, you should seek immediate medical help. But if your burning chest is just heartburn caused by acid reflux, you can heal it with the methods mentioned in the video below:

Burning Sensation in Chest: Other Causes to Watch Out

Except heartburn and heart attack, here are other possible causes of that burning feeling in chest:

1. Esophagitis

This inflammation can destroy the tissues of the tube that carries foods from the mouth to the stomach (esophagus). It can cause chest pain and difficulties in swallowing. Esophagitis is caused by allergies, oral drugs, infection and stomach acid moving up the esophagus.

Symptoms include:

  • Acid regurgitation
  • Heartburn
  • Food gets stuck in esophagus after swallowing
  • Pain in the chest, mainly behind the breastbone, mostly occurs when eating
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Difficulty in swallowing

For young babies, especially those unable to express themselves, they may have feeding problems or failure to grow well.

Treatment for esophagitis depends on the cause of the inflammation. OTC and prescribed medicines like antacids and medications reducing or blocking acid production like H-2-receptor blockers may be helpful. Surgical separation of the stomach and esophagus by wrapping up the portion of esophagus around the valve can provide relief in more severe cases.

2. Peptic Ulcer

These are open wounds that occur in the stomach (gastric ulcers), the esophagus (esophageal ulcers) and upper portion of small intestines (duodenal ulcers). They are caused by some drugs and bacterial infections and not by stress and spicy diet.

Symptoms mainly include burning pain that is caused by stomach acid coming into contact with the sores. The pain generally:

  • Is experienced anywhere between the navel and breastbone
  • Worsens when you have nothing in your stomach
  • Increases at night
  • Can be relieved temporarily by antacids or some foods that buffer stomach acid
  • Disappears and then recurs after a few weeks or days

Other symptoms include:

  • Appetite changes
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Black or dark/tarry stools
  • Vomiting blood, maybe black or red in appearance

Treatment depends on causes but you can use antibiotics for 2 weeks to decrease stomach acid. Besides, medications, like proton pump inhibitors helping reduce stomach acid production, histamine (H-2) blockers helping limit the amount of stomach acid in the digestive tract, antacids helping neutralize extra stomach acid, and other medications helping protect and heal digestive tract, can provide great relief.

3. Hiatal Hernia

Your diaphragm has a small opening where the esophagus passes (hiatus). In some cases, the stomach pushes up through this opening. Mostly you will not feel anything because a small hiatal hernia causes no problems. However, large hiatal hernia can allow acid and food back to the esophagus giving your burning sensation in chest.

Symptoms of large hiatal hernia include:

  • Black stool and vomiting blood, which might be a sign of gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Feeling very full after meals
  • Abdominal or chest pain
  • Problems swallowing
  • Belching
  • Heartburn

For treatment, you can use medications like antacids, H-2-receptor blockers or proton pump inhibitors to reduce stomach acid. Sometimes, surgery may be needed, via making a small opening in the diaphragm, to pull stomach down to the abdomen and restructure your weak esophageal sphincter or remove your hernia sac.

4. Other Causes of Burning Sensation in Chest

  • Bloating due to gas
  • Chemical burn
  • Nerve problems that cause tingling, numbness and pain
  • Shingles
  • Thermal burn or sunburn
  • Nerve-root irritation
  • Stroke
  • Dissecting thoracic aortic aneurysm
  • Chest trauma
  • Asthma
  • Angina
 
 
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