What Is This Burning Sensation In My Chest and Throat?

One of the classic symptoms of heartburn is the unpleasant sensation of burning inside your body. Generally, this sensation is centered around your chest and throat where your stomach acid is most active and can do the most damage.

Burning in the Chest

Heartburn got its name because symptoms tend to start in the chest, with a burning sensation right behind the breastbone. However, despite the location of the discomfort, heartburn has nothing to do with your heart.

The discomfort comes from acid in your stomach refluxing up into your esophagus. The tough stomach acid that helps your body break down food, can irritate the lining of your lower esophagus, leading to that burning feeling. Because of the location, it makes sense why you might identify the symptom as burning in the chest. However, it’s really burning in the esophagus.

Burning in the Throat/Burning Esophagus

While some people only experience this uncomfortable sensation in the chest/esophagus, many also feel the burn moving upward into the throat.

At the base of your esophagus, you have a lower esophageal sphincter (LES) at the opening to your stomach. This sphincter opens to let food flow through into your stomach. It then clenches tight, so the food and stomach acid do not reflux back up into your esophagus and ultimately your throat.

The burning you experience in your esophagus occurs because the LES is loose or too relaxed and isn’t closing as tightly as it should be. This could be for several reasons that can be identified by a doctor. The acid flows up into the esophagus and this is when you’ll get the burning sensation along with an unpleasant acidic taste and throat irritation. Talk to your doctor about the symptoms you’re experiencing, as they could be related to heartburn. Some other symptoms to look out for are burping, discomfort after eating a meal or pain when you bend over or lay down.

If you’re looking for easy ways to treat this burning sensation before you take a visit to your doctor, try fitting these tips into your routine - Behaviors as simple as eating quickly, eating right before you exercise, or even adding tomatoes to your burger, could be contributing to the burning sensation that you experience.

Frequent Burning

If you experience burning in your chest or throat two or more days per week, you may have frequent heartburn. Are you finding that your heartburn is disrupting your life and preventing you from enjoying simple activities with your friends and family? Consider trying Prilosec OTC. With only 1 pill in the morning, you can block heartburn all day and all night.* That burning sensation? You won’t even feel it!

Resources (accessed June’20)

• Cleveland Clinic, “Heartburn Overview”
• UNC Health Talk, “Your Burning Chest: How to Stop Acid Reflux and GERD”

†IQVIA ProVoiceTM Survey Jan 2005 – Mar 2021.

*Zero heartburn is possible with Prilosec OTC. Not for immediate relief. Take one pill per day as directed to treat frequent heartburn. May take 1 to 4 days for full effect. Do not take for more than 14 days or more often than every 4 months unless directed by a doctor. Use as directed.

**PG Calculation based in part on Buying Households reported by the Nielsen Company through its Homescan Panel service in the US for Prilosec OTC for the period of 8/31/03 through 6/25/16