What is heartburn?

Heartburn is an uncomfortable burning feeling in your chest that can move up your neck and throat. This can be a symptom of many different conditions, including acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and even pregnancy.

When you are experiencing heartburn, you may also have a bitter or sour taste in the back of your throat. Heartburn can last from a few minutes to several hours. It often feels worse after you eat or when you lay down too quickly after eating.

How common is heartburn?

Occasional heartburn is fairly common. However, if you have regular and severe heartburn, it can actually be an indicator of a chronic acid reflux condition called GERD. You should talk to your healthcare provider if you frequently experience heartburn.

What does heartburn feel like?

Heartburn typically feels like a burning in the center of your chest, behind your breastbone. When you have heartburn, you may also feel symptoms like:

  • A burning feeling in your chest that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours.
  • Pain in your chest when you bend over or lay down.
  • A burning feeling in your throat.
  • A hot, sour, acidic or salty taste in the back of your throat.
  • Difficulty swallowing.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/22/2020.

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