Do you have recurrent heartburn? Find out why it may be a sign of something more serious.
There’s a good chance that you’re already familiar with acid reflux and know what it feels like – a burning sensation in your throat, followed by a bitter taste in the back of your mouth. More than 60 million Americans experience acid reflux (also known as heartburn, acid regurgitation, or gastroesophageal reflux) at least once a month, and it’s rarely a danger to your health. However, if you experience recurrent acid reflux, you may have a more serious condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is mild acid reflux that occurs at least twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux that occurs at least once a week.
Acid reflux occurs when the contents from your stomach rise up your digestive tract into your esophagus. With GERD, the frequency or severity of acid reflux can cause chest pains, regurgitation symptoms, difficulty swallowing, and inflammation or ulcers of the esophagus. Chronic cough or disrupted sleep can also be signs of nighttime acid reflux. Over time, chronic GERD can lead to complications such as narrowing of the esophagus, ulcers, and a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, which can lead to esophageal cancer if left untreated over a long period of time.
If you experience frequent acid reflux, your doctor will likely recommend changes to your daily habits, like avoiding alcohol, coffee, and large or fatty meals. An upper endoscopy may also be necessary to further evaluate your symptoms and determine the appropriate antacid therapy for you.
Frequent acid reflux can create serious health issues down the road if left unchecked. If you think you may be suffering from GERD, make an appointment with your Primary Care Provider or gastroenterologist today.