Can Heartburn Cause
Shortness of Breath?
Since many individuals experience
shortness of breath and wonder if it is caused by heartburn, I have decided to give this a deeper look.
I warn you now that this might be a longer article than most as I really feel
that it is important to go over any of the causes or triggers which might be linked or related to the symptom itself.
Since heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux I felt that it was important to start there. Reflux is caused
by either too much or not enough acid production
within the stomach. Both can create
digestion problems as the stomach environment becomes unbalanced. This might also coincide with a
weak LES (contracting
muscle) or a hiatal (muscle tissue which separates your stomach from
your chest.) This might seem a bit confusing but your stomach contains two sphincters which work in
unison in order to allow the food to travel down into the stomach, and also keep it there.
As people age, or simply due to other
reasons (coughing bouts, hard punches to abdomen, improper lifting, bad
posture, tight clothes etc.) the opening (hiatus)
below the esophagus enlarges. This lets the upper portion of the stomach to move upwards and this rise is
labeled as a hiatal hernia. "Hernia" derived from
"herniates" is the upward movement of the stomach and
thus we are left with "Hiatal Hernia".
Some specialists believe that improper lifting
techniques are the highest risk for this specific condition. As the person attempts the lift
and is used to breathing through the stomach, the air is forced out through the hiatal and stretches
Often, a hiatal
hernia will either contribute or cause the gastroesophageal
reflux to occur.
Types of Hiatal
- Fixed Hiatus
Hernia - upper portion of the stomach is stuck in the chest area, often causes
- Sliding Hiatus
Hernia - very common, the stomach parts slides back and forth, causes little
- Serious or Complicated
Hiatus Hernia - uncommon, in some cases the entire stomach travels up into the chest area and this
Symptoms and Signs of
- Ability to cause heartburn
- Strong chest pain
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
- An obstruction within the
As you can see, hiatal
hernia may cause an obstruction within the LES as well as cause heartburn. This may explain why people with heartburn have problems catching
their breath. There are some studies pointing towards the fact that this may eventually cause asthma as well.
Another thing that might occur is that the stress or pain of
the heartburn itself sets of anxiety or a panic attack. These are very common as well, and one of their symptoms is shortness of breath.
They are usually accompanied by sweaty palms and
thoughts of impending doom.
What Can Be
- Relax (I know... easier
to said than done)
- Take a slow and deep breath into your chest area,
breathing through the nose
- Hold a couple seconds
- Let it out very slowly through the
- Do this ten times (has
worked wonders for many as after that amount of time and slow breathing your body has a hard time staying
Many sufferers of
heartburn are either self medicating or taking prescription pills. Often these will also come
with symptoms so do not hide those facts from your doctor. If you are self medicating,
I recommend getting the proper tests done and finding out what is
really going on within your body.