Every day, millions of people experience an unpleasant heartburn sensation after eating a meal. For many, this experience happens once in a blue moon, or only after they eat a specific combination of foods. For others, their heartburn could be a sign of a more serious medical problem lying just beneath the surface. But how can you know whether your heartburn is just something to keep an eye on, or suggestive that you seek out medical intervention? Below, we talk about seven signs that suggest your heartburn could be a symptom of a larger medical problem.
- Difficulty Swallowing – When heartburn is paired with difficulty swallowing, it’s an indication that the patient may be dealing with esophagitis. This involves an inflammation of the esophageal tissue, and it’s often an indicator of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- Difficulty Breathing – Similar to the above point, if heartburn is accompanied by difficulty breathing or an inability to catch your breath, you should visit a physician. It could be a sign of a hiatal hernia or a more severe health condition.
- Consistent Coughing – If you have heartburn and a cough that just won’t seem to go away, you’ll want to visit a doctor. There’s a chance you’re actually dealing with problems caused by a hiatal hernia, which needs medical intervention.
- Vomiting – If your heartburn is so painful that it actually causes you to vomit, set up a visit with a gastroenterologist right away. It could be a sign of a number of different issues, like esophagitis, GERD or a hiatal hernia. In some cases it’s also an indication of a heart attack, which needs immediate medical assistance.
- Stomach Pain – If your discomfort isn’t just isolated to your esophagus, and instead extends to your stomach, you’ll want to see a doctor. You could be experiencing a condition called gastritis, which involves inflammation of the stomach lining caused by bacteria or an infection. Getting the stomach issue under control often helps resolve the heartburn.
- Repetitive – While occasional heartburn may only require watchful waiting, frequent heartburn (classified as more than twice a week) is something you should talk to your doctor about. Odds are there is a bigger issue at play if heartburn becomes frequent.
- Pressure – Heartburn can make your chest cavity feel uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t feel like there is pressure on your chest. If you’re feeling chest pressure, this could be a sign of a significant health issue that can be best remedied with medical intervention.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms alongside your heartburn, schedule an appointment with Dr. Bhatti’s office today.