Acid reflux hurts. Stomach acids leaking into the esophagus — the long tube that carries food from your throat down to your stomach — causes a burning sensation in the chest, which is why it’s also referred to as heartburn. Heartburn is what is used to describe the sensation of acid reflux.
Acid reflux starts to become a problem if it occurs more than once a week and interferes with getting restful, uninterrupted sleep. If you are experiencing acid reflux with regularity, here’s why you should visit a gastrointestinal (GI) tract specialist. It is in your best interest to see a doctor sooner rather than later.
For a Proper Diagnosis
Acid reflux is a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is a more serious condition. Acid reflux is diagnosed after reviewing your medical history and symptoms. Acid reflux can be treated with a change in diet, lifestyle, and switching medications.
If a GI specialist suspects GERD, they may perform an endoscopy, which involves the use of a long, thin, and flexible tube, with a camera attached at the end. The doctor will examine your esophagus and stomach to check for signs that point to irritation or damage caused by stomach acid.
If you are taking antacids more than two times per week, it’s better to see a GI specialist for a proper diagnosis, so you get the right treatment.
To Rule Out Other Medical Conditions
A comprehensive examination helps rule out other medical conditions that share symptoms with acid reflux. For example, heart attacks, peptic ulcers, and infections can cause heartburn. The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and some medications such as antibiotics (Clindamycin, Tetracycline, and Doxycycline) can also cause heartburn.
Increased Risk of Esophageal Cancer
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer. Stomach acid flowing back into the esophagus can irritate the esophageal lining, causing inflammation or esophagitis, and over time, lead to damage to the tissue, which can lead to esophageal cancer. Other risks associated with chronic acid reflux include Barrett’s esophagus (damage to the lining of the swallowing tube), lung abscess, pneumonia, and interstitial pulmonary fibrosis.
If you suffer from acid reflux symptoms, the quickest way to achieve lasting relief is to see a GI specialist. The advice of a gastroenterologist is invaluable when it comes to maintaining GI health and reducing the risk of complications.
GI Specialist in California
Our GI specialists at inSite Digestive Health Care are board-certified and provide high quality, personalized care to patients with all manner of GI issues, from acid reflux and GERD to complications such as esophagitis and Barrett’s esophagus. We are exceptionally skilled in a range of treatments and can bring you much needed relief from your symptoms.
inSite Digestive Health Care is a large gastroenterology practice with over 20 affiliated practices in California. To schedule an appointment with one of our gastroenterologists, call our clinic nearest you or use our online appointment request form.