When is Acid Reflux a Cause for Concern

That fiery burning sensation in your chest and the tingling in the back of your throat may be a clue that something is amiss. Many people have experienced the unpleasant symptoms of acid reflux. They tend to come on after eating spicy, fatty or fried foods. 

Occasional, mild acid reflux isn’t a big deal. However, frequent or severe heartburn symptoms require evaluation. In this article, we discuss when to seek professional help for acid reflux. 

What is acid reflux?

If you’ve ever felt an uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest and throat following a meal, you’ve likely experienced acid reflux. It affects more than 60 million Americans at least once a month and is more common as you age and if you’re overweight or obese. Acid reflux happens when the acidic contents of the stomach flow backward into the esophagus, causing burning and indigestion.

Frequent acid reflux is a concern

Acid reflux that occurs once in a while isn’t a cause for concern. In fact, most people experience heartburn at some point in their lives. That said, it’s time to see a doctor if you experience acid reflux on a regular basis. 

It’s considered a serious problem if you experience acid reflux more than twice a week. This is typically a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Make a note of your symptoms and how often they occur. Your provider at Illinois Gastroenterology Group will want to discuss your symptoms when you come in for a comprehensive evaluation. 

Gastroesophageal reflux disease

Acid reflux is a common symptom of GERD, a condition that causes:

GERD happens when the lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak, damaged, or otherwise dysfunctional. This tough band of muscular tissue prevents food from moving from the stomach into the esophagus. When it fails to work properly, stomach contents flow into the esophagus, causing classic acid reflux symptoms. 

Complications of untreated acid reflux

The acidic contents of the stomach can damage the esophagus over time and lead to complications such as Barrett’s esophagus. This condition happens when ongoing esophageal inflammation and damage cause the cells of the esophagus to change and become abnormal. It’s often diagnosed in people with long-lasting GERD. Barrett’s esophagus raises the risk for developing esophageal cancer. 

Other complications of untreated acid reflux are:

Treating acid reflux

Here at MIB Surgery, our team often start by recommending diet and lifestyle changes to relieve acid reflux symptoms. Your provider may also recommend medication to help manage your symptoms. 

When your symptoms fail to improve with medication, diet modifications, and lifestyle changes your doctor may recommend surgery. Fundoplication is the most common surgery to treat GERD. The procedure involves making changes to reinforce the lower esophageal sphincter. In most cases it leads to long-term improvement in GERD. 

If you have acid reflux, it’s best to visit us at MIB Surgery for a thorough evaluation. Call our office to schedule an appointment.

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