Heartburn and acid reflux are not the same thing. Heartburn is actually a symptom of acid reflux. Heartburn gets its name because it feels like a burning sensation around the heart. Another symptom that occurs with heartburn is a bitter or sour taste in the mouth, usually when you eat or lye down. Heartburn affects more than 60 million people in the US at least once a month. Acid reflux, or GERD, occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, which irritates it. Heartburn is just one symptom of acid reflux. Other symptoms of acid reflux include:
- Nausea after eating
- A feeling of fullness during or after eating
- Abdominal bloating
- Upset stomach
- Reflux laryngitis
- A tightness in the throat
- Problems swallowing
- In some people, vomiting
Causes of acid reflux and heartburn include:
- Being obese
- Slouching (poor posture)
- Medications like calcium channel blockers, theophylline, nitrates, and antihistamines
- Foods and drinks like caffeine, citrus fruits and vegetables, alcohol, and chocolate
- Increase in stomach acid
- Eating a heavy meal
- Eating before bed
The treatment for heartburn and acid reflux is to treat the underlying cause,
for example, GERD, with over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, prescription medicine,
natural remedies, and lifestyle changes like a eating a healthy, less fatty,
spicy diet, not eating big meals, not eating before bed, and getting regular
exercise to improve
Sometimes a heart attack can mimic heartburn and acid reflux because they feel very similar. If you have symptoms of chest pain, tightness in the chest, heartburn, acid reflux, jaw, tooth, or head pain; shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, sweating, discomfort in the upper middle of the abdomen, arm or upper back pain, or the general feeling of being ill, go to the nearest Emergency Department immediately because these are the symptoms of a heart attack.
American College of Gastroenterology. "Acid Reflux." 2017.
familydoctor.org. "Heartburn." Updated: Mar 2014.
National Library of Medicine; PubMed Health. "Heartburn and GERD: Treatment options for GERD." Updated: Nov 18, 2015.
<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072436/> Read more: Heartburn vs. Acid Reflux (Differences and Similarities) Article
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Chest Pain Quiz
What causes chest pain? If you have chest pain, does it mean you're having a heart attack? Take the quiz to learn what diseases...
Diet and Nutrition Quiz: Plans & Facts
Even if you think you're getting enough fruits and vegetables per day, how can you be sure? Take the Diet & Nutrition Quiz to...
Stomach Pain Quiz: Nausea & Other Causes
Tummy Troubles? Get a better idea of what's causing the nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, pain, and other...
Pain Quiz: Test Your IQ of Pain
Is pain all in the brain? Take the Pain Quiz to learn everything you've ever wanted to know about the unpleasant sensation we...
Diet for Stress Management: Carbs, Nuts, and Other Stress-Relief Foods
While there are many ways to cope with stress, one strategy is to eat stress-fighting foods. Find out which foods to eat as part...
How to Get Rid of Nausea and Vomiting
What is nausea? Do you want to know how to get rid of nausea and how to stop vomiting? Learn home remedies for nausea,...
Digestive Health: Why Am I Bloated?
Bloating is a sign and symptom of gas in the stomach or GI tract. Certain foods or health problems like constipation may cause...
Better Ways to Feed Your Baby
What tips and tricks help you introduce healthy foods to your baby's diet. Learn techniques for feeding that work for infants and...
Related Disease Conditions
Intestinal Gas (Belching, Bloating, Flatulence)
Anal itching is the irritation of the skin at the exit of the rectum, known as the anus, accompanied by the desire to scratch....
GERD (Acid Reflux, Heartburn)
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a condition in which the acidified liquid contents of the stomach backs up into the...
Reflux Laryngitis (Diet, Home Remedies, Medicine)
Reflux laryngitis is caused by acid refluxing back up through the esophagus and voice box. Reflux laryngitis causes irritation...
Sore throat (throat pain) usually is described as pain or discomfort in the throat area. A sore throat may be caused...
Cough (Chronic, Persistent Cough in Adults and Children)
Chronic cough is a cough that does not go away and is generally a symptom of another disorder such as asthma, allergic...
Schatzki Ring (Schatzki's) Causes, Symptoms, and Natural Treatments
Schatzki (Schatzki's) ring, is a narrow ring of tissue located just above the junction of the esophagus and stomach. The cause of...
Hoarseness (abnormal deep, harsh, raspy voice) is caused by a variety of conditions in which the larynx (voice box and vocal...
Swallowing Problems (Dysphasia)
Dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing, swallowing problems. Dysphagia is due to problems in nerve or muscle control. It is...
Hiatal Hernia (Symptoms, Diet, Surgery, Treatment)
Hiatal hernia is a condition in which a thin membrane of tissue connects the esophagus with the diaphragm becomes week, and a...
Heartburn During Pregnancy
Heartburn during pregnancy is quite common. During pregnancy the lower esophageal sphincter muscle becomes weakened , which...
Pregnancy (Week By Week, Trimesters)
Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but...
Nausea and Vomiting (Causes, Natural Remedies, Diet, Medication)
Nausea is an uneasiness of the stomach that often precedes vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are not diseases, but they are symptoms...
Esophagitis is caused by an infection or irritation of the esophagus. Infections that cause esophagitis include candida yeast...
GERD and GER (Acid Reflux) in Infants and Children
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is the upward movement of stomach content, including acid, into the esophagus and...
Pregnancy Diet (Menu Plans)
When a woman is pregnant she needs more vitamins, minerals, and other foods in her diet to stay healthy and deliver a healthy...
Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Signs
Pregnancy symptoms can vary from woman to woman, and not all women experience the same symptoms. When women do experience...
Chest pain is a common complaint by a patient in the ER. Causes of chest pain include broken or bruised ribs, pleurisy,...
Gynecomastia (Enlarged Male Breasts Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments)
Gynecomastia, an enlargement of the gland tissue in the male breast is the caused by an imbalance of hormones. Certain medical...
Heartburn (Acid Reflux) Symptoms, Relief Medicine, Cures
Heartburn is a burning sensation experienced from acid reflux (GERD). Symptoms of heartburn include chest pain, burning in the...
Sore Throat Home Remedies (Soothe, Pain Relief)
Natural and home remedies for sore throat symptoms and pain relief include essential oils, licorice gargles, slippery elm...
Is a Cough Contagious?
There are many types of coughs: for example, dry cough, wet cough, a barking cough, whooping cough, stress induced...
Is Laryngitis Contagious?
Laryngitis is inflammation and swelling of the voice box (larynx). Causes of laryngitis are viral, bacterial, fungal, strenuous...
Causes of Chest Pain: Signs and Symptoms
Chest pain may be caused by many conditions. Learn when chest discomfort, pressure, and tightness is a medical emergency. Find...
19 Tips on How to Stop a Cough
Coughing is a reflex that helps a person clear their airways of irritants. There are many causes of an excessive or severe...
Heart Attack vs. Heartburn (Differences between Symptoms and Signs)
Heartburn is a symptom of another disease or medical problem and can be described as a feeling of burning in the chest...
Local ResourcesFind a local Doctor in your town
Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
- omeprazole/sodium bicarbonate - oral, Zegerid
- lansoprazole (Heartburn Relief 24 Hour, Heartburn Treatment 24 Hour, Prevacid 24)
- omeprazole, omeprazole/sodium bicarbonate, Prilosec, Zegerid, Prilosec OTC, Zegerid OTC
- metoclopramide, Reglan, Metozolv ODT, (Reglan ODT, Octamide, and Maxolon
- pantoprazole (Protonix)
- rabeprazole, Aciphex
- esomeprazole (Nexium, Nexium 24HR, Nexium IV)
- Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) Drug Class
- Prilosec (omeprazole) vs. Nexium (esomeprazole)
Prevention & Wellness
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter