What Does Heartburn Feel Like? Heartburn, medically termed pyrosis, is an unpleasant condition. Heartburn feels like a burning sensation in the chest, although other symptoms are also present that can aid in the identification of the condition. The most common location for heartburn pain is just below the sternum, or breastbone. About one in five people are estimated to experience heartburn at least once per week. Heartburn is caused by the lower esophageal sphincter not functioning properly. Normally this sphincter is responsible for keeping the contents of the stomach contained in the stomach and separated from the esophagus. If the sphincter malfunctions, the acidic contents of the stomach can travel up the esophagus, creating the burning and painful sensation in the chest. Heartburn pain lasts anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, and often worsens when the patient is lying down. It can sometimes feel as though food gets stuck in the chest when eating and it can be difficult to swallow. The burning sensation can also travel up the throat, or in some cases, it is experienced as a sour or acidic tasting fluid in the back of the throat. While this painful, burning sensation is an annoyance, for most people it is never more than that. However, in some cases, frequent heartburn can lead to further complications. Frequent heartburn is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and over the long term it can result in ulcers or even esophageal cancer. Smoking can contribute to heartburn, in addition to other lifestyle conditions. Obesity and pregnancy can both put additional pressure on the stomach, increasing the likelihood of heartburn. Likewise, tight-fitting clothing or tight belts can cause similar pressure. Stress seems to contribute to heartburn and certain medications are known to increase the frequency of heartburn. Those who have never had a medical diagnosis of the condition may wonder what heartburn feels like. In addition, other medical conditions can be mistaken for heartburn, such as angina. If you suspect you may be suffering from heartburn, try making modifications to your diet and lifestyle that may be contributing, to see if it eases the frequency of the pain. Antacids should eliminate or at least lessen the pain on an acute basis. If youâ€™re experiencing pain that radiates down your arms or to your shoulders, you should seek the advice of a medical professional, because you may be experiencing angina, which is a symptom of some heart conditions.