If you’ve had that uncomfortable feeling in your chest after a large meal or consuming spicy foods, you’re not alone. Millions of people experience heartburn every month. But if your heartburn seems to be frequent, there may be other issues like acid reflux or GERD that we at Carolina Digestive Health Associates can help you decipher.

When Heartburn is a Symptom

A tightness in your chest. A burning sensation that gets worse when you lie down. This uncomfortable feeling known as heartburn is caused when acid is released back into your esophagus, irritating the cell lining. This is the most common symptom of acid reflux. So if you are experiencing frequent heartburn, your body may be alerting you of a deeper problem.

What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux occurs when a ring of muscles between your esophagus and stomach, known as the lower esophagus sphincter (LES), is weak or relaxes while you’re consuming food. After you swallow your food, the LES is supposed to close completely. When it doesn’t, stomach acid is released back into the esophagus.

While acid reflux is known to ruin a good meal, it is not life threatening. Usually the uncomfortable feelings associated with acid reflux and heartburn will subside fairly quickly.

However, if acid reflux becomes chronic, it may progress to a more serious disease known as GERD.

What is GERD?

Typically those who experience acid reflux more than twice a week are diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and may experience inflammation in the esophagus. Many of the symptoms of GERD are similar to those of acid reflux, however, GERD can become dangerous if it is left untreated. Ulcers, scarring, and even precancerous and cancerous lesions can develop in the esophagus as a result of GERD. Enduring the symptoms of GERD and acid reflux just isn’t worth it and self diagnosing and treatment with over the counter medications is also a bad idea. Our doctors at Carolina Digestive Health Associates will help you discover a treatment plan that works for you! If your acid reflux symptoms are recurring and becoming more severe, please contact us at Carolina Digestive Health Associates for an appointment.