Health Plus: Treating your acid reflux - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Treating your acid reflux

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That burning sensation in your chest could be a lot more serious than indigestion.

As you digest that holiday meal, consider one eastern Iowa woman's story of relief from acid reflux.

Four years ago, Sharon Robe would wake up gagging with reflux from her stomach.

"Like in the middle of the night I would wake up and just totally go like I was throwing up and I would run and there'd be nothing there and I'd have a burning sensation in my throat," Robe said.

The 46-year-old Cedar Falls woman knew her restless nights from the burning sensation were not normal.

A doctor visit confirmed she had a more serious problem.

"After I had the scope I saw my whole esophagus was all inflamed and everything, and they said I had acid reflux really bad. They put me on medicine," she said. 

Doctors at Covenant Clinic in Waterloo say Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) happens when stomach acid backs up toward your mouth.

Heartburn is one classic symptom.

"If someone isn't on any acid medications, it's acid reflux and it gives them a sensation of heartburn, chest pain for some people, indigestion," Covenant Clinic gastroenterologist Dr. Carline Quander said. "How people describe it varies based on the person. Some people have no heartburn but they have chest pain."

Medications initially worked for Sharon, but when the symptoms came back, she opted for surgery.

 "The junction between the esophagus and the stomach is loose and that allows the acid in the stomach to come on up. So we want to recreate a higher pressure zone there to make it so that acid doesn't freely come up into the esophagus," said Covenant Clinic surgeon Dr. Neil McMahon said.

So how do you know when your acid reflux is serious enough for surgery?

"We believe that good control of acid reflux is when you only have two or three episodes of heartburn a week. You're putting yourself at a little bit of risk to injure the esophagus if you allow the acid to continue and not try to control it," he said.

The happy ending for Sharon, she no longer has reflux problems and can safely eat whatever she wants.

You don't have to live with the pain of acid reflux.

Visit a doctor to learn how medications or even lifestyle changes can control it.

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