Chest burning can be frightening, especially for people concerned about heart health or having a heart attack. However, there are many potential causes of chest pain. There are also many treatment options available.

Many causes of a burning feeling in the chest are not harmful. In fact, just 15–25% of people who visit the emergency room with chest pain have an acute heart problem.

In this article, learn more about what causes a burning chest. We also cover some treatments and home remedies.

Causes

Numerous conditions can cause chest burning, including:

Heartburn

Woman holding her chest due to chest burning
A common cause of chest burning is heartburn.

Heartburn, or acid reflux, is one of the most common causes of painful burning in the chest.

The sensation ranges from mild discomfort to intense pain.

Heartburn occurs when acid from the stomach travels back up the esophagus. It is more common in pregnant women, people with gastroesophageal reflux disease, and those with a hiatal hernia.

Consuming acidic foods and drinks, such as tomatoes and alcohol, may increase the risk of heartburn. Smoking tobacco can also increase the risk.

Some other symptoms of heartburn include:

  • burping
  • burning in the throat
  • pain that begins shortly after a meal
  • pain that gets worse when lying down

Other gastrointestinal problems

Other gastrointestinal problems may also cause burning chest pain. Some may cause symptoms that mimic those of heartburn.

For example, people with gallstones or liver health problems may experience intense heartburn.

If the pain does not get better after taking an antacid or other heartburn medication, the problem might be due to something else, such as gallstones, liver disease, or pancreatitis.

An eating disorder can affect almost anyone, regardless of whether they are underweight or overweight. Eating disorder is a term that covers a range of conditions involving abnormal or disrupted eating.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, an estimated 10 million men and 20 million women living in the United States will develop an eating disorder during their lifetime.

The exact cause of eating disorders remains unclear. However, experts believe that sociocultural, biological, and psychological factors all play a role in their development.

Many people may think of anorexia or bulimia when they think of eating disorders. Although these disorders are the most common, there are several other types. Read on to find out more.

Below, we provide information on some of the most common eating disorders, including their typical signs and symptoms.

Bulimia nervosa

a man looking out a window and thinking about his Eating disorders
Sociocultural, biological, and psychological factors may all contribute to an eating disorder.

Bulimia nervosa, which most people refer to as bulimia, is a condition that typically develops during adolescence or early adulthood. According to a 2016 study, bulimia is more common among women than men.

Individuals with bulimia tend to eat large quantities of food very quickly, which people often call "binge eating" or a "binge."

After binge eating, a person with bulimia typically takes steps to purge their body of the extra calories. Common purging methods include:

  • self-induced vomiting
  • taking diuretics
  • taking laxatives

Not everyone with bulimia will use these methods of purging. Some people try to counter the high calorie intake by fasting or doing excessive amounts of exercise.

New research has linked the use of prescription drugs for stomach acid to a higher likelihood of developing allergies afterward.
bottle of pills on the counter
New research finds a link between PPIs and the risk of allergies.

Due to the study's design, the results do not prove that gastric acid reducers — such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) — actually cause allergies.

In a Nature Communications paper about their work, however, the authors suggest that the findings "infer" an increased risk of allergy.

The data for the study came from health insurance records that cover around 8.2 million people living in Austria. This number represents 97% of the Austrian population.

A team from the Medical University of Vienna (MedUni Vienna) in Austria used the epidemiological data to analyze the use of anti-allergy drugs following the use of prescription medications that reduce stomach acid.

As the data came from insurance claims, the team did not analyze actual incidence of allergies, instead using patterns of prescription anti-allergy medications as stand-ins.

The analysis showed that following prescriptions for stomach acid inhibitors, the use of prescription anti-allergy drugs was higher compared with other types of drug.

According to the findings, it appears that people who took stomach acid medications such as PPIs had a two-to-three times higher chance of later receiving prescriptions for anti-allergy drugs.

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Gastric acid and PPIs

Doctors prescribe PPIs to treat various gastric acid conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease. This occurs when acid from the stomach flows backward into the esophagus, or the pipe along which food travels.

Estimates suggest that more than 15 million people received PPI medications in the United States in 2013.

Pantoprazole is the generic name for Protonix, a drug that helps treat problems related to acid reflux and peptic ulcers. It works by decreasing acid in the stomach.

Pantoprazole is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). People use it to treat and manage the symptoms of erosive esophagitis and Zollinger–Ellison syndrome.

Doctors also prescribe pantoprazole to stop ulcers from forming.

In this article, we take a look at the uses of pantoprazole, possible side effects, and warnings when taking this drug.

What are its uses?

a woman holding a Pantoprazole pill.
A doctor may prescribe pantoprazole to treat erosive esophagitis.

Adults and children aged 5 years and older can take pantoprazole to treat erosive esophagitis. Erosive esophagitis is inflammation of the esophagus, which is the tube that connects the mouth and stomach. Erosive esophagitis occurs when stomach acid rises up into the esophagus.

Usually, doctors will prescribe pantoprazole sodium tablets for erosive esophagitis for a period of 8 weeks. Sometimes, however, adults need to take it for an additional 8 weeks for further healing.

Doctors should limit the use of pantoprazole in children with erosive esophagitis to a maximum of 8 weeks.

People can also use pantoprazole to treat chronic conditions such as Zollinger–Ellison syndrome. People with Zollinger–Ellison syndrome may have stomach ulcers, acid reflux, and chronic diarrhea.

Doctors can also prescribe pantoprazole, alongside antibiotics, to treat Helicobacter pylori infections.

Off label, doctors can prescribe pantoprazole to prevent bleeding stomach ulcers and to stop stomach ulcers from forming after a person takes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Omeprazole belongs to the proton pump inhibitor (PPI) class of medications. Doctors prescribe omeprazole to reduce stomach acid to help treat a variety of digestive conditions.

People can also use over-the-counter (OTC) omeprazole to relieve heartburn or acid reflux.

Although most people tolerate omeprazole well, there are certain risks when people use it for a long period of time.

In this article, we review the uses, side effects, and drug interactions of omeprazole.

What is omeprazole for?

a packet of omeprazole. Image credit: Siufaiho, 2006
A doctor may prescribe omeprazole for intestinal or stomach ulcers.
Image credit: Siufaiho, 2006

A PPI will reduce the acid in the stomach, which will help heal the stomach lining to help treat a range of conditions.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved omeprazole capsules and granules for the following medical conditions:

  • intestinal ulcers in adults
  • stomach ulcers in adults
  • Helicobacter pylori infections, in combination with antibiotic therapy
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in people aged 1 and above
  • GERD-induced erosive esophagitis in people aged 1 and above
  • maintaining healing of erosive esophagitis in people aged 1 and above
  • Zollinger–Ellison syndrome

People can use OTC omeprazole tablets to treat frequent heartburn that occurs two or more times per week.

However, doctors do not recommend omeprazole tablets for immediate heartburn relief because it can take up to 4 days before it has its full effect.

How it works

Omeprazole is a PPI. Proton pumps are also called hydrogen-potassium pumps, and they are located along the inner lining of the stomach. These pumps are responsible for releasing acid into the stomach.

New research suggests that drugs commonly used for heartburn, acid reflux, and ulcers may raise the risk of numerous fatal conditions, including heart disease and stomach cancer.
woman
A new study warns about the dangers of a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors.

Physicians often prescribe proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to treat gastrointestinal conditions that involve an excess of acid production.

Nexium, Aciphex, Zegerid, Dexilant, Prevacid, Prilosec, and Protonix are only some of the brand names that PPIs have taken over the years.

More than 15 million people in the United States take prescription PPIs, according to the most recent statistics available, and even more may be taking over-the-counter PPIs.

A new study, appearing in the journal The BMJ, suggests that these drugs may increase the risk of death from various chronic health conditions.

Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, an assistant professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, is the senior investigator of the study.

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PPIs linked with a 17% higher death risk

For the new study, Dr. Al-Aly and colleagues examined data from the medical records of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The researchers looked at data available from mid-2002 to mid-2004, a period during which 157,625 people in the cohort received PPI prescriptions from their physicians and 56,842 people received H2 blockers, another kind of acid suppressant.

The scientists clinically followed the participants — who were predominantly male, Caucasian, and 65 years old or older — for up to a decade.

They used the data to build a statistical model of a clinical trial, which would see the participants randomly assigned to take either PPI or H2 blockers.