Do you sometimes feel a tickling feeling in your chest and hope that this is from acid reflux rather than a heart problem?

Does this odd sensation make you imagine a feather is waving around under your breastbone somewhere?

Acid Reflux and a Tickling Feeling in the Chest

“Yes, acid reflux causes stomach acid to come up into the throat,” says Dr. Saurabh (Seth) Sethi, MD, a Harvard University and Stanford University trained board-certified gastroenterologist practicing in the San Francisco bay area.

“This acid hitting the food pipe can feel like a tickle in the chest,” says Dr. Sethi.

The food pipe is the esophagus, which is actually made of muscle. Acid that refluxes from the stomach organ is notorious for causing an assortment of symptoms that can make their way as high as the throat – even the nose.

If the tickling sensation in your chest is really annoying you, the solution is to figure out what’s causing the stomach’s so-called juices from rising up into the esophagus through a weak sphincter.

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If the tickling sensation in the chest occurs only overnight, then the solution would be to elevate your chest when sleeping

This way gravity can help prevent the stomach contents from creeping up the esophagus, which is located right beneath the sternum (breastbone).

Wedge-pillows are sold for this purpose. Propping only your head up with pillows will not help; the torso needs to be elevated. Also avoid eating and drinking alcohol before bedtime.

If the situation occurs during the daytime, your eating habits and/or anxiety can be triggers.

Limit foods that can cause heartburn such as:

• Alcohol

• Spicy foods including peppers and garlic

• Chocolate

• Citrus fruit/juices

• Caffeine

• Tomatoes

See if there’s a particular food that precedes the tickling feeling in your chest, then eliminate it and see what happens.

Eating a lot at once, especially rapidly, can also bring on acid reflux. Avoid food binges.

As for prolonged anxiety, this is tricky to resolve because the source of the ongoing stress can’t always be eliminated.

Nevertheless, it’s far more likely that a tickling sensation in your chest is being caused by acid reflux than from a heart problem.

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Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


Top image: Shutterstock/ Andrey_Popov