What May Cause Burping and Chest Pain?

If you’ve been dealing with burping and chest pain, not only are you uncomfortable, you may also be very anxious about what may be causing it. Indigestion that leads to chest pain and burping can possibly be serious and a sign of cardiac trouble. If this is the first time you have dealt with these two symptoms together, you need to seek emergency medical attention. If it is an ongoing problem, this article will help you understand some of the causes and what you can do about it.

Possible Causes of Burping and Chest Pain

Chest pain and burping can have a number of causes, from digestive issues to cardiac conditions. It is important to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment. Here are some of the common causes of chest pain with burping and other symptoms you may be feeling:

1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is also known as IBS. Researchers aren’t completely sure what causes it and it affects the large part of the colon. It can cause both burping along with chest pain along with:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Gas and belching
  • Mucus in bowel movements

Your doctor will most likely run some lab testing to check for celiac disease, lactose intolerance, and/or parasites. Your doctor may also do a scope into your digestive system to look for signs of inflammation in the bowel.

2. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

This condition occurs when the sphincter muscle from the abdomen to the esophagus is loosened and acids can slip up into the esophagus and throat. This can cause excessive belching and what feels like chest pain under the sternum. Other symptoms include:

  • Heartburn and indigestion
  • Bitter taste in mouth
  • Pressure in the upper abdomen and chest after eating

Your doctor can place a gauged tube into your esophagus that will measure the amount of stomach acid going up and down over a 24-hour period of time. Most of the time, GERD can be diagnosed just based on your symptoms and history.

3. Hiatal Hernia

This condition happens when your intestines or stomach bulges through a hole in your abdominal muscles and up into your chest. It can cause burping and chest pain along with other symptoms such as:

  • Feeling of fullness early in a meal
  • Trouble swallowing food
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in stools

Doctors can do a barium x-ray to check for the hernia. They may also do blood testing to make sure you aren’t anemic. Endoscopy can be performed to look at the inside of the esophagus and stomach.

4. Pancreatitis

This is a severe irritation and inflammation of the pancreas. The acute phase of this illness can cause severe chest pain, back pain, vomiting and belching. Other symptoms include:

  • Pain with touch to the abdomen
  • Foul smelling stools that float
  • Severe pain after eating
  • Weight loss

The doctor can perform blood testing to check for high levels of the enzymes; amylase and lipase from the pancreas. They will also do a CT scan to check for inflammation in the pancreas and possible stones from the gallbladder that can cause the condition.

5. Heart Attack

The symptoms of a heart attack can be very different for each individual. The symptoms also vary between men and women. Burping and chest pain can be a very prominent symptom of a heart attack. Other symptoms can include:

  • Radiating pain to the jaw, teeth or head
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Fatigue
  • Cold sweating
  • Shortness of breath

If you experience any of the above symptoms with chest pain and burping, call 911 right away or have someone take you to the nearest emergency room. A heart attack is a very serious medical condition and must be evaluated and treated right away. The doctor will do blood tests to check for a certain chemical the heart releases as the heart muscle is damaged, along with an EKG that shows the electrical activity of the heart.

What to Do If I Experience Burping and Chest Pain

If you have a minor case of abdominal or chest pain with burping and it goes away, it probably isn’t anything to be worried about. However, if the pain continues or worsens, you need to get emergent medical help. If you are evaluated medically and the problem isn’t cardiac in nature, you can ask your doctor about some home care tips for relief, such as:

  • Avoid spicy and greasy foods.
  • Elevate the head of your bed at night.
  • Try to drink beverages after your meal instead of during your meal.
  • You may have food intolerance. Try remembering what you ate before the episode and eliminate any possible offenders from your diet for a few weeks. Add them back in one at a time and see which food causes the discomfort.
  • Try an over-the-counter gas relief and/or acid reducer with meals.

Experiences of Others

"I am 49 and just had a full physical exam in which I was negative for heart disease. The doctor checked my cholesterol levels and an EKG which were fine. For the last few months, I have had lots of burping and chest pain. Everything that could cause this went through my mind. Heart attack? Reflux? GERD? The doctor said it would take more time to figure out. When I get the episodes, it feels like I need to burp really bad. Lots of chest pressure and pain. The doctor said since the episodes were ongoing over the course of months, it most likely wasn’t a heart attack since it should be more sudden. We think it is most likely stress and anxiety."

“I am only 29 years old and I have had issues with GERD for about a year now. The doctor is currently checking me for hyperthyroidism and looking into a few nodules that were found on my thyroid. I was told that too much thyroid hormone can cause chest pain. The doctor thinks the burping and reflux are something separate.” 

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