Heartburn brings discomfort to more than 60 million Americans at least once a month, and it may seem harmless at first. However, heartburn can have serious consequences on your overall health.
Care providers John Leal, DNP, and aesthetician and registered nurse Tori Leal, BNP, at Encino Park Family Health & Wellness Clinic in San Antonio, Texas, share why you shouldn’t leave heartburn unchecked.
Heartburn causes a burning sensation in your chest or throat and results from stomach acid flowing back into the esophagus. It may occur because the valve where the esophagus meets the stomach is weakened and doesn’t keep the acid from washing up into the esophagus.
While occasional heartburn, no more than once or twice a week, is often nothing to worry about, persistent or worsening symptoms could indicate an underlying health issue.
Many people make the mistake of dismissing heartburn as a minor inconvenience, but this approach can lead to long-term complications.
Underlying health conditions associated with heartburn
Persistent heartburn can be a symptom of underlying conditions that require prompt medical attention. One such condition is a hiatal hernia, where a portion of the stomach protrudes into the chest cavity, causing acid reflux.
Another possibility is peptic ulcers, which are open sores in the stomach lining or duodenum. In rare cases, heartburn could also be a warning sign of esophageal cancer, emphasizing the importance of seeking timely medical evaluation.
Complications of untreated heartburn
Left untreated, heartburn can lead to several complications:
- Esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus)
- Dysphagia (trouble swallowing due to an esophageal stricture)
- Barrett’s esophagus (changes to the lining of the esophagus)
- Esophageal cancer
Early intervention is essential to prevent these potential complications.
Importance of visiting the doctor
If you experience frequent or severe heartburn, call the Encino Park Family Health & Wellness Clinic team. We assess your symptoms, perform tests, and accurately diagnose the underlying cause.
We can then recommend appropriate forms of treatment that tame your symptoms and also prevent the development of further health complications.
Lifestyle modifications, such as dietary changes, weight management, and medications, can effectively manage most cases of heartburn and its underlying causes.
Ignoring heartburn can have serious consequences for your health, so don’t let it go unchecked — call Encino Park Family Health & Wellness Clinic or request an appointment online any time.
You can also send a message to the team here on the website.