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Acid Reflux

William Foody, M.D.

Dr. Foody is a military veteran that has served in both the United States Navy, and the United States Air Force. While serving in the U.S. Navy, Dr. Foody was active duty on the USS Iowa BB- 61, in Norfolk, Virgina, and served in the NAVY Reserves until 1989, when he joined the Health Professions Scholarship Program in the U.S. Air Force at the Medical College of Virginia.

Dr. Foody completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Medical Center, and his GI fellowship at the Medical College of Virginia before completing and additional year of training in Advanced Therapeutic Endoscopy at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston, South Carolina. Dr. Foody and his family joins us in Florida from the San Antonio, Texas where Dr. Foody was the Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Foody retired from military duty 2009.

The physicians at Borland-Groover Clinic treat acid reflux, chronic heartburn, regurgitation, trouble swallowing, Barrett’s Esophagus, and can provide information on ways to prevent esophageal cancer.

Easy-to-treat heartburn symptoms may seem like just another case of acid reflux but with a closer look these symptoms can warn an individual of something much more serious – Esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus and even esophageal cancer.

Common symptoms of acid reflux are heartburn or substernal burning, regurgitation or an acid taste in the mouth or throat. Other likely symptoms are chest pain, increased saliva production, burping from swallowing dry air, globus – the sensation that there is something in your throat and can’t clear it, hoarseness, wheezing, asthma or recurrent respiratory infection or a chronic cough.

Alarm symptoms that warrant urgent evaluation from your primary care physician include dysphagia, or food getting stuck in your throat, weight loss and black stools which indicate blood loss from the Upper Gastrointestinal tract. Treatment may be necessary if you have any of the alarm symptoms, or if you experience reflux that affects your quality of life, daily or nightly symptoms.

An upper endoscopy procedure for acid reflux is recommended for long standing reflux symptoms. These include:

Long-standingreflux symptoms also give reason to screen for Barrett’s esophagus.

Simple lifestyle changes can be the first step towards reflux relief. A few changes an individual can make include: avoid tight fitting clothes, eat smaller low-fat meals during the day, engage in healthy weight loss, avoid lying down within two to three hours of a meal, never eat in a reclined, recumbent or supine position, avoid alcohol, carbonated beverages, spicy foods, tomatoes and chocolate, and elevate the head of the bed four to eight inches when sleeping. As always, avoid any tobacco use such as cigarettes or smokeless tobacco since there products put you at risk not only for esophagitis, esophageal cancer, Barretts esophagus, but also gastric cancer, pancreatic cancer, cancer of the mouth and of course lung and heart disease.

Medical treatment includes using antacids, such as Tums and Rolaids, as needed. It also includes using H2 Blockers, such as Rantidine once or twice a day, or even a Proton Pump inhibitor with Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid or Dexilant to name a few. Your physician may escalate the treatment to control symptoms, and if symptoms improve then medical treatment may be deescalated by your physician or nurse. You should be aware of possible treatment side effects, on of which is osteoporosis, caused by the acid suppression limiting calcium absorption. You must ensure that you are receiving adequate calcium replacement and are evaluated for osteoporosis and osteopenia. Other side effects include diarrheal illnesses and respiratory infections.

While evaluating acid reflux, it is important to not that you never neglect any kind of chest pain and always make sure that chest pain is not caused by the heart. If your reflux symptoms are well controlled with medication or you have a very large hiatal hernia that is cultivating reflux symptoms or regurgitation, surgery is also an option. If you decide to pursue surgery, ensure that the surgeon has extensive experience in the surgical treatment of reflux disease.

Acid reflux symptoms can be minimal, mild, or quite severe, but with years of symptoms the patient can suffer significant acid injury and run the risk of precancerous or possibly cancerous changes to your esophagus. Occasionally, after years of reflux, some patients may have a resolution of symptoms, but unfortunately are still at risk. Even though the reflux symptoms come to a halt, those years of acid exposure to the esophagus put you at significant risk for Barrett’s esophagus which, left unrecognized, can lead to esophageal cancer. It is crucial to have acid reflux issues evaluated by your healthcare provider and possibly even by a gastroenterologist.