Cleveland, OH

Cleveland Clinic's gastroenterologist explains the know-hows of acid reflux problems

Paul Krasinic

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CLEVELAND, OH – Acid reflux has been seen as a common problem that does not require much attention like other health problems. A gastroenterologist at University Hospitals, Dany Raad, MD., says that light acid reflux can cause mild heartburn that can be relieved with drugstores medicines. In contrast, the severe one can cause heartburn, sore throat, vomiting, as well as trouble swallowing.

Severe acid reflux is called gastroesophageal reflux disease or commonly known as GERD. When people suffer from GERD, they need to start paying attention as it will lead to multiple complications in other organs. The acid might harm esophagus tissues and continue to the lung, throat, even teeth.

Dr. Raad explains that particular foods like coffee, fat-rich food, chocolate, and others might trigger heartburn. Still, they are not the roots of reflux disease. Obesity, overeating, hiatal hernia, alcohol, and smoking are named as a few of the major risk factors that can lead to reflux disease.

Medications commonly used to decrease acid reflux are H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors. These medications can be found in the general drugstore or prescribed by medical professionals.

Proton pump inhibitors are known to be stronger than any medication for reflux disease. Yet, it is also warned to use it in the long term. It has concerning side effects that might affect the kidney, cardiovascular organs, even caused fractures, pneumonia, and dementia. However, Dr. Raad says that the side effects are uncertain as some didn't get the side effects in long-term use.

Dr. Raad advised the people to consult with their medical professional regarding long-term medication use to avoid the side effects.

"If people are taking these medications for longer than three to six months on their own, they should be consulting a doctor. They should know for sure they are taking the medication for the right indication and most important, they should know they are on the right dosage. If that's being done, the risks of taking the medication are way less than the benefit it provides," he added.

There are few things that people can do to manage acid reflux. As it was stated that obesity and overeating are two of the major risk factors, Dr. Raad suggests people to lose weight if they are overweight and eat in a smaller amount. Coffee, chocolate, soda beverages, and fries' intakes need to be reduced. They also should consider quitting smoking and reduce their alcohol intake.

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