For Release on: October 17, 2011
Family Health Matters:
Heartburn’s Red Flags
Dr. Sreenivas Chintalapani of Davenport’s Gastrointestinal Clinic of the Quad Cities explains how persistent heartburn may be a sign of something more serious than a bad case of acid reflux.
(Davenport, IA) – Chronic heartburn isn’t just about you overeating. The acid reflux may eat away at you, specifically your esophagus.
“Occasional heartburn shouldn’t be much of a worry. But if it’s persistent, involves after-exercise pain or if you’re having unplanned weight loss, it’s time to see a physician,” says Dr. Sreenivas Chintalapani, a fellowship-trained gastroenterologist at the Gastrointestinal Clinic of the Quad Cities.
If you have persistent heartburn and you are a white male smoker over age 50 who is losing weight, you’re flying most of the red flags for serious GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease). If heartburn is affecting your sleep or your enjoyment of food, doctors are standing by to help you out – and you probably need them.
You may find that your doctor recommends an endoscopy. If your doctor sees any of a number of serious conditions, you might be talking about special medication or even surgery to correct a hiatal hernia or other condition. And don’t put it off too long – severe GERD can lead to Barrett’s esophagus, which is a serious risk factor for esophageal cancer. (This cancer can be treated by using Radio Frequency Ablation in some patients and potentially prevent this type of cancer in the future.)
What is GERD?
Technically speaking, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which the stomach contents (food or liquid) leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus. The resulting irritation to the esophagus is what we commonly refer to as “heartburn.”
During normal digestion, the food you eat is kept in the stomach by ring of muscle fibers at the top of your stomach called the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES. When the LES doesn’t close well, food, liquid, and stomach acid can leak back into the esophagus. This is called reflux or gastroesophageal reflux. This reflux causes discomfort and may even damage the esophagus.
Common risk factors for reflux include hiatal hernia (a condition in which part of the stomach moves above the diaphragm, which is the muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities), pregnancy, and scleroderma. Obesity, cigarettes, and possibly alcohol also increase the chance of GERD.
How to deal with GERD
Health care providers usually recommend lifestyle and dietary changes to relieve the symptoms of GERD and some people need medication. But the only way to know how severe the situation and what all of your options are is to see a doctor.
About Gastrointestinal Clinic of the Quad Cities
The Gastrointestinal Clinic of the Quad Cities was originally started in October of 1981. The three physicians are associated with two state of the art outpatient surgery centers in Davenport and Moline. They offer endoscopic ultrasound at the Davenport surgery center location, which is the only available site in Davenport for endoscopic ultrasound of the pancreas, esophagus and colon. They also perform the new Halo procedure for Barrett’s Esophagus. Their offices participate in “Open Access” screening colonoscopy for colon cancer screening. Their practice includes 4 convenient locations: Davenport, Moline, Clinton and Geneseo.
Dr. Sreenivas Chintalapani has been in the practice of gastroenterology for the past 10 years in the Quad Cities. He also has been an investigator in clinical trials for the past 10 years. He is well-trained in diseases of the pancreas, biliary system and in the treatment of hepatitis. Dr. Chintalapani is married to Radhika and has two children. They reside in Moline, IL. Dr. Chintalapani ‘s hobby is photography.
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