If you experience heartburn on a regular basis and are not treating it in any way, other than with chewable antacid tablets, you may want to visit a doctor. Regular heartburn episodes can be a symptom of acid reflux. While acid reflux is a highly treatable condition, it can cause medical problems if left untreated. Here are three things you should know about acid reflux.
What causes it
Your stomach contains acids, and when these acids work their way up into your esophagus, you will experience heartburn. This typically occurs when the muscle connecting the stomach to the esophagus relaxes, which is why most people are more likely to experience heartburn while laying down than while standing.
How it is treated
There are numerous ways to treat acid reflux, and some of these methods involve lifestyle changes. For one, you should begin eating smaller meals. If you eat large meals, your stomach will be fuller, and this can often lead to worsened heartburn. Another option is to cut back on foods or beverages that trigger your heartburn. This could include chocolate, coffee, and alcoholic beverages.
In addition, your doctor may suggest taking a daily antacid medication. If this does not help, your doctor could offer another type of medication, such as a foaming agent. A foaming agent is designed to coat your stomach with foam, and this can help stop heartburn from occurring. There are many other options too, and you should try as many as necessary to stop the heartburn from occurring.
What is does if left untreated
If you do not treat your heartburn or cannot find the right medication for it, you could develop a variety of different health problems. The acid that enters your esophagus from acid reflux will damage your throat and esophagus. This can lead to chronic coughing and asthma, and it can cause inflammation in your throat. You may also be at risk for developing ulcers in your esophagus, and you could eventually develop Barrett's esophagus.
Barrett's esophagus is a condition that affects the tissue lining in your esophagus. If your doctor feels that you have this, he or she may want to complete an endoscopic biopsy to test the tissue in your throat. This condition is usually treated in the same way as acid reflux, but the damage from it can be lifelong.
If you have heartburn, you may also have acid reflux, and you should not leave this condition untreated. To learn more, schedule an appointment with a medical clinic today. Contact a business, such as Hightstown Medical Associates, for more information.