Acid reflux—also known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD— is a condition in which acidic stomach contents back up into the esophagus, causing irritation and discomfort. Acid reflux often occurs after eating certain foods, after eating a large meal or if a person lays down immediately after finishing a meal. Acid reflux can also be present in the morning when a person wakes up from sleep. If this occurs over a long period of time, the esophagus can become damaged. The longer a person has acid reflux, the greater risk of damage.
Barrett's esophagus is a condition that occurs after a person has had acid reflux or GERD for a period of time. Constant exposure of the esophagus to stomach acids and digestive enzymes can cause the cells in the lining of the esophagus to change. These cell changes are considered precancerous because they increase the risk of esophageal cancer. Barrett's esophagus can present with the symptoms of acid reflux which include heartburn or difficulty swallowing. Barrett’s esophagus is treated with acid blockers in most cases.
Acid reflux is normally treated with the use of antacids and dietary changes with the goal of reducing intake of foods and/or drinks that exacerbate symptoms. These include fatty or fried foods, tomato-based foods, caffeine, and alcohol, to name a few. The most important part of an acid reflux treatment plan is to modify your lifestyle and eating habits. Some helpful changes include:
Simple lifestyle changes can eliminate discomfort from acid reflux.