While acid reflux is uncomfortable, many just assume that it is a part of life. In someways this is true because of our fast paced lifestyle, you should take acid reflux serious. This article looks at some of the reasons to address your acid reflux.
Risks of Untreated Acid Reflux
We live in a world of fast paced living. Fast foods, fast jobs and high stress often lead to health problems. One of the most common health issues is acid reflux, GERD or heartburn. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore your heartburn. Here are the top 3 reasons to get your heart burn treated.
Complications of Untreated Heartburn
Reason #1 To Treat Acid Reflux: Damage to Your Esophagus
Acid reflux occurs when the acid in your digestive system flows into your esophagus. The esophagus is a tube which connects your mouth and your stomach. This can set you up for:
When the lining of the esophagus becomes irritated by the rising stomach acid irritates the lining of the esophagus, inflammation can occur. This swelling is known as esophagitis, Overtime this can make it very difficult to swallow.
GERD has been proven to be one of the top reasons for ulcers, or sores occurring in the lining of the esophagus. Common symptoms include but aren’t limited to:
- Painful swallowing
- Chest pain.
With the passage of time, continued damage from stomach acid can often lead to the esophagus becoming scarred. As the scar tissue begins to build up , the opening in the esophagus can become narrow. These narrow spots are known as strictures and they make it difficult to swallow food or even liquids. This can ultimately lead to weight loss, dehydration or even death. While there are treatments to re-stretch the esophagus, it is better to avoid this condition.
Approximately five to ten percent of people who suffer from GERD will develop Barrett’s esophagus. This condition is actually precancerous cells. The positive side is that only one percent of cases of Barrett’s esophagus develop into esophageal cancer.
Reason #2 To Treat Acid Reflux: Increased Risk of Esophagus Cancer
If you have a prolonged case of GERD the chances of developing cancer of the esophagus is increased slightly. This is also true if you have Barrett’s esophagus or if you have a family history of esophagus cancer.
Some of the symptoms of esophagus cancer are:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chest pain
If you have a family history along with any of the above, you should have an endoscopy performed regularly.
3. Tooth Decay
The constant barrage of stomach acid can lead to tooth decay. This is because the acid weakens the enamel of your teeth and will lead to cavities.
So What Can I do?
The best treatment if prevention. You can take some simple steps to prevent heartburn in the first place and then avoid the negative consequences.
Here are some changes in lifestyle that will help you to avoid acid reflux, GERD or heartburn.
Lifestyle change #1: Eat smaller meals, and avoid snacking before bedtime.
Learn to eat more frequent and smaller meals. Don’t snack at least one hour before bedtime.
Lifestyle change #2: Raise the head of your bed by 6 inches.
Elevating your head can help to eliminate nighttime heartburn
Lifestyle change #3: Cut back on fatty and acidic foods, alcohol, chocolate, peppermint, and coffee.
While eliminating these foods altogether can be difficult, reducing them can be possible. Over time you will start to crave them less and less.
Lifestyle change #4: If you smoke, stop
If you don’t smoke don’t start. If you do smoke stop ASAP. Quitting smoking will offer a long list of health benefits including reduction of or even the elimination of acid reflux.
Lifestyle change #5: If you are overweight, losing weight will help
Getting down to a healthy weight will reduce your acid reflux at a minimum.
Make sure and consult your medical professional before making lifestyle changes. While there are some OTC or prescription options you can also use some natural methods to curb your acid reflux.