Are you having a painful burning sensation in your chest or your upper abdomen? Does this pain sometimes radiate into your back? Does it almost feel like you can’t catch your breath? These general symptoms sound like heart attack symptoms and are often the reason that thousands of people show up in emergency rooms every year with them, only to find out these symptoms are related to acid reflux. It’s estimated by medical professionals that as many as 20 – 30 million Americans suffer from acid reflux or as it’s becoming known – gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.

Most of us have experienced it, especially after that spicy Italian sausage and pepper sub or even that piece of dense chocolate torte. For me, it was drinking iced tea all day that caused me to have problems. So, for those of us with food-related acid reflux, it’s easy to know what foods to avoid, so we don’t have a problem. We can take an over the counter antacid and obtain relief.

For some of us however acid reflux becomes a chronic condition that over time can cause damage to the esophagus. When damage to the esophagus occurs this is when acid reflux can cause serious medical problems. What happens with chronic acid reflux is that the stomach acids that backflow from up into the esophagus actually damage the lining of the esophagus. This back up of acid can cause ulcers to form along the esophagus and can cause what is called Barrett’s esophagus which is when the normal esophageal cells are replaced with abnormal cells. These abnormal cells have been associated with cancer of the esophagus.

The question is what to do? Try the easiest path first. If you have occasional acid reflux you can try observing what foods bring on the acid reflux. Some medical professionals do not see any link between acid reflux and food at all. They believe that acid reflux occurs no matter what type of food you eat. This has not been my personal experience. I have found that avoiding combinations of foods does prevent my acid reflux from occurring. Keep a diary of what you have eaten when your acid reflux acts up. This way you’ll know what types of food to avoid. It is suggested that you do not lie down right after any meal. Do not bend over right after a meal. Don’t wear tight-fitting clothing. Do not smoke! Smoking can trigger acid reflux symptoms. If you have periodic acid reflux you can seek relief from over the counter antacids. For more severe and chronic acid reflux it is suggested that you seek advice from your medical professional. You may need a prescription antacid for relief.

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