We all suffer from occasional heartburn, but if your symptoms occur daily or after eating the same types of foods, you may have acid reflux. One in three Americans suffers from reflux disease, a rapidly growing population that has hit epidemic proportion. Reflux can show up as heartburn, abdominal discomfort, sinus issues or even a nagging cough. Thirty-eight billion is spent annually worldwide for prescription and over-the-counter medications to control reflux symptoms.
Typically, treatment focuses on the relief of symptoms with medications, and while these remedies can effectively control symptoms, they do nothing to correct the underlying causes of the disease, so it can progress. If unchecked, reflux can lead to reflux-induced esophageal cancer–one of the deadliest cancers–growing at a rate of more than 850% since 1975.
There are new diagnostics to screen for this cancer. One is the trans-nasal esophagus scope, a minimally invasive screening you can have done in-office on your lunch break. Using a tiny endoscopic camera, the size of a piece of spaghetti that goes through the nose to the stomach, physicians at Atlanta’s ENT Institute can look at the esophagus to detect reflux, any damage, and cancer. The newest test looks at DNA in the cells to determine if you are at risk for this type of cancer.
Like most cancers, if caught early, esophageal cancer is completely curable. Here’s a quick test to determine if you may have reflux disease.
- Do you carry antacids and other heartburn remedies with you at all times?
- Do you have a cough that won’t seem to go away?
- Do the antacids rid you of your symptoms, but they always return?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have reflux disease. You don’t have to live with this pain. Make an appointment to get tested, get treated, and enjoy mealtime again.
~This Best Health article provided by Dr. Jeffrey M. Gallups, a double board-certified physician specializing in nasal and sinus disorders and founder of Atlanta’s ENT Institute. Dr. Gallups will also serve on our healthcare panel to help explain the complexities of the Affordable Care Act.