Acid Reflux On The Rise But Healthy Habits Can Help

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This article is courtesy of the Baylor College of Medicine, please share your comments below…..

doctorThe number of people experiencing acid reflux is increasing, but making lifestyle changes could lessen the symptoms. An expert at Baylor College of Medicine recommends making these lifestyle changes to also avoid health complications down the road.

“The increase of acid reflux symptoms is partly due to the rising obesity rate and continued fast food (high fat and low fiber) consumption, along with inactive lifestyles,” said Dr. Hashem B. El-Serag, section chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Baylor. “Not smoking, participating in regular physical activity, eating foods that are low fat and high fiber and maintaining a healthy weight are lifestyle changes that can prevent acid reflux symptoms or reduce them for those who have reflux.”

Symptoms

Acid reflux is a condition where the contents of the stomach, which is mostly acid, do not stay in the stomach and instead go up into the esophagus. This occurrence can generate the following symptoms:

* Heartburn

* Acid regurgitation

* Chest pain

* Bitter taste in the mouth

* Belly discomfort

* Unexplained cough

* Sore throat

If these symptoms continue for a prolonged period of time especially among those older than 50 years it can injure the esophagus, resulting in esophagitis or Barrett’s esophagus, said El-Serag, also program leader of the Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences Program at the NCI-designated Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center.

What to do

Food plays a major role in acid reflux and modifying eating habits may alleviate reflux symptoms. Generally, a low-fat and high-fiber diet is best.

“If someone is predisposed to acid reflux, I recommend they avoid high-fat foods, wine, strawberries and chocolate,” he said. “I would also suggest losing weight, a doctor can help determine how much is best.”

After eating, the stomach is full of food and excreting acid, which means lying down will make the symptoms worse.

“Brief walks after meals are a good way to gain more exercise and help the stomach empty its contents while having gravity work against the reflux,” El-Serag said. “Physical activity and an active lifestyle can improve the symptoms.”

If an individual is older than 50 years, has daily symptoms, or has a family history of Barrett’s esophagus or esophageal cancer and has reflux symptoms, El-Serag recommended they see a gastroenterologist. For individuals with less frequent symptoms and of younger age, he recommended trying antacids or over the counter medications.

Complications

The following are warning signs and symptoms that can occur with acid reflux complications:

* Difficulty swallowing

* Choking

* Weight loss

* Bleeding from the mouth or rectum

* Symptoms that do not respond to over the counter medications

People with these symptoms should see a gastroenterologist to rule out other causes for the symptoms, El-Serag said.

Obesity And Acid Reflux Precursors For Esophageal Cancer

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Submitted by The Baylor College of Medicine…..

newsDriven by obesity and acid reflux, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus has become the fastest rising cancer in white men in the United States, said experts from Baylor College of Medicine and University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in a review article published in New England Journal of Medicine. The review summarizes the latest developments in the risk factors, pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of the two major types of esophageal cancer.

“It’s important to remember that the risk factors (obesity and acid reflux) are potentially modifiable,” said Dr. Hashem El-Serag, senior author of the review and chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Baylor.

Esophageal cancer is rare in young individuals but increases with age, peaking at ages 70 to 80. The cancer is three to four times as common in men as it is in women, the authors stated.

The review details how daily and weekly symptoms of acid reflux increase a person’s likelihood of developing this form of cancer. It also explains how abdominal obesity increases the risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus and cancer. Increased pressure causes the stomach to move upward, which can cause and exacerbate acid reflux symptoms.

Barrett’s esophagus, a precursor lesion to adenocarcinoma, can be detected through an endoscopy.

“People who are obese or have chronic acid reflux should consider having an endoscopy to be screened for Barrett’s or adenocarcinoma,” El-Serag stressed.

A technique called radiofrequency ablation can help prevent progression to cancer in those with Barrett’s esophagus who develop an abnormality called dysplasia.

“Radiofrequency ablation can be done endoscopically by a gastroenterologist,” El-Serag explained. “This reduces the risk of cancer and has proven safe and effective.”

He estimated that as many as 86 percent of dysplasia cases treated with radiofrequency do not go on to become cancer.

The other author in this review is Anil K. Rustgi, chief of gastroenterology at University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia.