Acid reflux is very common, but one of the complications that can happen with acid reflux is chest pain. Chest pain can be caused by several things, including heart disease, esophageal spasms, esophageal ulcers, esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus), or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
If heartburn has become chronic due to frequent acid reflux episodes, it will cause tissue damage in your esophagus and increase your risk of developing GERD. At Andrea’s Digestive Clinic: Colon, Liver, Gallbladder, GERD/Acid Reflux Specialist), we recommend a timely appointment with your doctor if you are not sure if your chest pain is due to acid reflux or something else.
This is important because chest pain may indicate an acute issue like a heart attack or coronary artery disease if additional symptoms like sweating; nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath are present. Most specifically, the following additional symptoms are possible reasons for concern:
- Dysphagia (experiencing difficulty when swallowing) or odynophagia (experiencing pain when swallowing)
- Vomiting blood or coffee-ground material
- Unexplained weight loss and/or anemia
- Coughing up blood, wheezing, persistent pneumonia, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other lung conditions.
These are usually unrelated to acid reflux but can take place when your esophagus is inflamed.
What Causes Chest Pain in GERD?
GERD is usually associated with heartburn because of the continuous exposure of corrosive stomach acids to the delicate lining of the esophagus. This can cause damage to the lining of the esophagus that may lead to a number of different complications. The constant presence of stomach acid in the esophagus will make it more vulnerable to other conditions, including:
- Esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus)
- Esophageal spasm
- A hiatal hernia which is when part of your stomach moves up into your chest through a tear in your diaphragm
All three can lead to chest pain as well as nausea, vomiting, and heartburn. With that being said, you should not ignore any persistent or worsening symptoms that could be attributed to GERD or acid reflux disease. These symptoms warrant immediate medical attention:
- Acid reflux worsens or is chronic
- Chest pain that is not relieved with antacids or home remedies
- Heartburn more than twice a week
- Worsening heartburn, abdominal pain, and/or swallowing difficulties. This can indicate an advanced case of acid reflux disease. If there are additional symptoms, such as unexplained weight loss, chronic fatigue, or blood in your stool, please seek medical attention immediately to rule out other conditions that may require treatment.
How to Treat Chest Pain Associated with GERD?
There are several treatments available for acid reflux in Singapore, including lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery, depending on the severity of your condition. The first thing to do if you start to experience chest pain is to take an antacid to reduce the amount of stomach acid in your esophagus.
There are also other medications that can be taken, including muscle relaxers, H-2 receptor blockers, or proton pump inhibitors which reduce the amount of acid production from your stomach. If those don’t help, a doctor will prescribe stronger medications.
Another option to treat GERD and acid reflux in Singapore is a surgical procedure called Nissen Fundoplication. This surgery involves wrapping a part of your stomach around the lower end of the esophagus to reinforce it and prevent acid from coming up into your esophagus. The goal of this surgery is not only relief for symptoms but prevention loss of lining in the esophagus.
How Long Can Acid Reflux Chest Pain Last?
When you experience chest pain, it may be acute and self-limited, or there may be a more chronic condition. When it comes to the duration of stomach acid in your esophagus, it can vary from person to person and based on your specific condition.
On the baseline, chest pain due to acid reflux can last for two hours or even more, depending on the severity of your symptoms. If it lasts for more than two hours or you experience chest pains after eating, it is important to seek medical attention so the cause can be determined and proper treatment can be implemented.
What can I do to Prevent Chest Pain Associated with GERD?
There are several steps you can take at home to help reduce acid reflux and keep it from coming back, including. Your doctor may recommend these options for managing acid reflux in Singapore:
- Remaining upright for 2 hours after eating a meal which allows gravity to assist in preventing stomach contents (including acid) from moving up into your esophagus. You can lie down after that if you like but avoid reclining or napping immediately following meals.
- Quit smoking as well as chewing tobacco and drinking alcohol because they interfere with the sphincter valve below your stomach and make it easier for acid (and other stomach contents) to move up into your esophagus.
- Avoid tight-fitting clothes and bending over after meals as these can increase the incidence of acid reflux.
- Lose weight if you are overweight or obese as it puts added pressure on your stomach, which can cause acid reflux disease.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated and thin out any remaining stomach contents. Of course, this is a good idea all year round, but especially during the holiday season when we tend to drink less water because it’s cold outside. The more liquids you drink, the less concentrated your stomach contents will be, making them easier for your sphincter valve to handle.
- Avoid fatty foods as well as fried foods that take longer for your body to digest and soak up excess fluids from your stomach.
In addition to those lifestyle changes, you should also eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of 3 large meals and chew food thoroughly, which will help it pass through your stomach to prevent a buildup of acids that may lead to acid reflux or heartburn. Also, sit down at the table for meals and avoid doing anything else while you are eating. As always, if chest pain ever becomes a persistent problem, please seek medical attention immediately to rule out other conditions that may require treatment.
The Bottom Line
Chest pain is not necessarily an indicator of heart disease, but there are many conditions that can cause chest pain, including acid reflux. The best thing you can do for acid reflux in Singapore is making several lifestyle changes to promote healthy digestion, which reduces the likelihood of stomach contents reaching your esophagus.
If that doesn’t help, then medications may be prescribed, including antacids or more potent medications. Preventative surgery can also be done if other forms of treatment fail, to prevent acids from coming up into your esophagus.
Andrea’s Digestive Clinic: Colon, Liver, Gallbladder, GERD/Acid Reflux Specialist
#21-11/12 Royal Square at Novena, 101 Irrawaddy Rd, 329565
+65 6264 2836