Acid reflux or heartburn is a common occurrence for most people, where some of the acids in the stomach leak into the esophagus and cause a burning sensation in the chest and throat. Typically, if reflux happens multiple times a week or is severe at least once per week, your reflux may have advanced to Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
While Acid reflux is seemingly harmless, chronic acid reflux or GERD can eventually increase the risk of esophageal cancer when left unaddressed.
There are multiple factors that can cause acid reflux, including:
- Failure of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES)
- Lying down immediately following a large meal
- Snacking near bedtime
- Regular use of blood pressure medications, certain muscle relaxers, ibuprofen, or aspirin
- Eating certain foods, such as chocolate, garlic, onions, spicy or fatty foods, and anything with citrus
- Frequently drinking carbonated beverages, coffee, tea, or alcohol
What to do about acid reflux
Making changes in your diet, as well as lifestyle changes like increasing exercise and losing weight can all have an effect on reducing acid reflux. Eating smaller portions of food more frequently throughout the day may also reduce the frequency of acid reflux.
If you experience heartburn more than once weekly, have difficulty swallowing or if over the counter medications no longer control your symptoms, it is time to talk with your gastroenterologist. Your doctor may want you to undergo testing and can discuss further treatment plans to reduce your symptoms.
Talk with one of the doctors at GI Associates in Jackson, MS, about steps you need to make to improve your acid reflux symptoms and help decrease your risks of esophageal cancer.