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Holiday Heartburn

December 03, 2015

During the holiday season many experience heartburn, acid reflux and difficulty swallowing.

There is cause for concern over frequent acid reflux for several reasons:

  • Symptoms are unpleasant for the patient. The usual symptom of heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest
  • Some forms of acid reflux can lead to precancerous changes, Barrett’s Esophagus
  • Other diseases of the esophagus like Eosinophilic Esophagitis

View Dr. Sack’s interview on 4WJXT about heartburn and the holidays.

The MUSE procedure, a noninvasive technique, can help patients eliminate acid reflux symptoms and the need for medication to treat acid reflux. People that have daily heartburn or very frequent heartburn can benefit from the MUSE procedure. Another issue that many Borland-Groover Clinic physicians see around the holidays is difficulty swallowing.

What is Eosinophilic Esophagitis?

For decades we have seen many patients with difficulty swallowing or food getting stuck and blaming it on acid reflux but it turns out many of these patients have Eosinophilic Esophagitis, inflammation of the esophagus that is similar to asthma (like an asthma of the esophagus). There may be at least a thousand of the these patients undiagnosed in the local area. This condition is not treated effectively with acid reflux medications but patients often try to resolve the issue with acid reflux medications and might see partial improvement. Patients with Eosinophilic Esophagitis are often diagnosed after food gets stuck in the esophagus and they end up in the emergency room.

Diagnosis of Eosinophilic Esophagitis or inflammation of the esophagus

Diagnosis is confirmed with an upper endoscopy (3-5 minute procedure) and the diagnosis and treatment drastically improve the quality of the patient’s life. Upper endoscopy allows your physician to see the esophagus, up close, giving your gastroenterologist an opportunity to see that you have Eosinophilic Esophagitis.

Certain foods may cause acid reflux.
Foods that may increase acid reflux are:

  • Tomato products
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Alcohol, red wine

Avoid these foods late at night and use in moderation and schedule an appointment with your physician to find out the cause of your frequent heartburn.

The most rapid increasing cancer is cancer of the esophagus

This cancer begins with acid reflux that occurs for many years. Patients that have had acid reflux on a regular basis should see a physician for an endoscopy to know whether they have Barrett’s Esophagus and prevent a more serious diagnosis.