GERD can lead to cancer

If left untreated, acid reflux can lead to major health problems.
If left untreated, acid reflux can lead to major health problems.

DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Most of us have experienced some sort of acid reflux before, but did you know that can be a symptom of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD?

Daphne Baker said GERD can be a life changing experience.

"GERD has affected my life in that I have a lot of throat irritations. My throat burns a lot. At first I thought it was sinus problems," she said.

Gastroenterologist Dr. Khursaid Yousif explains what happens to people with the disease.

"This is a condition where you have content of the stomach come up toward the esophagus," he said.

He said the esophagus is not meant to handle acid or bile. He said that can lead to injury, pain, discomfort, and burning sensations.

Baker said there are certain times when the symptoms hit her, like when she is lying down.

"And especially after I eat spicy foods or chocolate or carbonated beverages, which are all my favorite things," she added.

Heartburn is really bad, if she forgets her medication.

"To try to control it, I do try to take the medication that I've been given. I do try to drink a lot of water, which does seem to help - try to avoid spicy foods," said Baker.

If left untreated, Yousif said it can lead to major health problems. That reflux can also lead to lung problems, asthmatic symptoms, and more.

"…And it leads to consequences from these injuries leading to problems swallowing, to changes in the lining, which predisposes a person to develop esophageal cancer," he said. "People have reflux bad enough it leading to what we call aspiration pneumonia."

He said it can also mimic other ailments.

"Fifty percent of the patients will end up in the emergency room thinking they're having a heart attack from chest pain," he said.

He said treatment involves lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery when necessary.

If you're suffering from any of these symptoms, make sure to visit your doctor. He will run some tests and tell you what the source of your problem is. It is important to get a quick diagnosis and early treatment so you can avoid worsening health problems.

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