LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) -Acid reflux is a common condition that causes a burning pain, known as heartburn. It's a condition that if left untreated, can cause more serious problems.
Acid reflux happens when stomach acid flows back up into the food pipe.
“Acid reflux is a disorder that’s characterized typically by patients having 2 common symptoms, either heartburn or regurgitation of stomach content,” said Certified physicians assistant Christopher Bartlett. “And usually people feel like a burning or acid sensation in the back of their esophagus or throat.”
But symptoms can also present in other ways, like trouble swallowing, painful swallowing, chronic cough, or chest pain. Bartlett says it’s a very common condition.
“People that typically experience symptoms of GERD are typically men greater than women, people over the age of 50, anyone that’s had any type of recent weight gain, women when they become pregnant will experience GERD,” said Bartlett.
GERD, or Gastroesophageal reflux disease, if left untreated, can lead to complications like Barretts esophagus, which is associated with an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. There are ways to prevent acid reflux, like maintaining a healthy weight.
“It can help be prevented by elevating your head at bed if you’re having symptoms nocturnally at nighttime,” said Bartlett."It can be prevented if there are certain foods associated with your symptoms. Alcohol is a contributing factor, as well as tobacco use."
Bartlett says most people can be treated with simple over the counter medicines. For those who suffer from acid reflux, he has some good advice for the holidays.
“Watch what you eat. Keep your alcohol intake minimal. Certainly do not overeat,” said Bartlett."Overeating increases your abdominal pressure, which can result in acid reflux type symptoms."
If you think you may be experiencing acid reflux, you can go to your primary care physician, or to a gastroenterologist to get looked at.