Health Plus: Acid reflux disease - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Acid reflux disease

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That burning chest pain called heartburn is something we've all had at some point.

But for some people, it's signaling a more serious problem.

For years Michelle Fink dealt with heartburn.

But a trip to the emergency room when it got too painful led the 24-year-old to a more serious diagnosis.

"I really ignored it for a good couple years which is not what I'd recommend 'cause it's obviously a lot more serious consequences than what I was thinking," said Michelle.

Acid reflux disease can happen when the valve at the entrance to your stomach doesn't close all the way or opens too often as food passes through.

Acid produced in your stomach can move into your esophagus, causing heartburn.

If symptoms happen twice a week, you may be dealing with acid reflux.

"It's, in many people, it's a relief to know that it's the esophagus causing the problem and not the heart. So the biggest issue is trying to make sure we have the right diagnosis that it is acid reflux disease and then once we get that diagnosis it's usually nicer because we can treat with medication," said Dr. Carline Quander, Covenant Clinic.

Doctors at Covenant Clinic in Waterloo can test patients for the disease using a scope down the throat.

"The only problem with getting medications without seeing a doctor is that there are other conditions associated with acid reflux, mainly Barrette's Esophagus, and there is an increased risk of esophageal cancer in people with acid reflux so it's recommended that people with prolonged symptoms of acid reflux should have an upper endoscopy," said Dr. Quander.

"Go see a doctor right away so they can get taken care of so it doesn't turn into something more serious," said Michelle.

Currently Michelle takes two medications to control her symptoms.

By the way, sixty million Americans reportedly have heartburn once a month.

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