When to see a Doctor for Acid Reflux?

Everyone occasionally gets heartburn, and it generally just causes a slight inconvenience. The occasional occurrence of acid reflux can be considered normal. However, chronic acid reflux can have an adverse impact on your life, causing you to stress about when and what you eat, as well as pain and discomfort. But when can heartburn start posing a significant risk to your health? Keep reading to find out the answer to all your questions about when to see a doctor about reflux.

Before getting into when it is time to start worrying about your acid reflux, let's understand what acid reflux is and why you should be careful with its symptoms.F

Acid Reflux, Heartburn, and GERD

1. Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is a disorder that occurs when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, which is the lengthy tube that connects your mouth and your stomach. The problem often develops when the sphincter, or valve, that prevents stomach acid from entering the esophagus malfunctions. Suppose you have occasional acid reflux, then you shouldn’t wonder when to see a doctor about reflux.

The most typical sign of acid reflux is burning in the throat and chest because the delicate tissues of your esophagus cannot withstand the harsh stomach acid. As a result of acid reflux, you can experience the following:

  • Chest discomfort or heartburn
  • Having difficulty swallowing or having the sensation that something is in your throat
  • Indigestion or abdominal pain
  • You may get a metallic or acidic aftertaste as a result of acid reflux.

2. Heartburn

When acid backs up into your esophagus, the burning sensation in your chest is referred to as heartburn. The term "heartburn" was created because the esophagus is located behind the heart. Heartburn is an acid reflux sensation that frequently follows a meal.

3. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

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When regular acid reflux causes the esophageal tissues to inflame or irritate, GERD is diagnosed. GERD can seriously harm the esophagus and eventually evolve into Barrett's esophagus, a condition that signals the development of esophageal cancer. Although the most typical indication of GERD is heartburn, you can have GERD without having heartburn. This makes it hard to figure out when to see a doctor about GERD. Some more symptoms that may appear with GERD are as follows:

  • Coughing
  • Acid reflux into your mouth when you bend over
  • Hoarseness (especially in the morning) 
  • A sensation of something being lodged in your throat
  • A sore throat 

Now that you understand acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD, here are your DOs and DONTs with these conditions.

DONTs when suffering from GERD

There are millions of people who have GERD, but the majority of them have not yet received a diagnosis. They self-medicate with over-the-counter H-2 blockers, antacids, or proton-pump inhibitors after attributing their discomfort to something they consumed or drank. These medications are only meant to be used seldom, despite the fact that they can help with rapid relief. 

Due to their long-term negative effects, PPIs, for example, should not be taken frequently for longer than two weeks. PPIs have been associated in studies with vitamin deficiencies, bone fractures, renal failure, heart attacks, dementia, and Clostridium Difficile infections. These complications should get you to ask yourself when to see a doctor about GERD instead of self-medication.

DOs when suffering from GERD

An experienced, board-certified gastroenterologist is essential for GERD treatment. A specialist can assist if you experience chronic acid reflux. GERD can be really dangerous and will not vanish if ignored. Untreated GERD can result in esophageal inflammation and consequences such as strictures, ulcers, and a higher risk of Barrett's esophagus, a symptom of esophageal cancer.

A doctor with specific training in treating gastrointestinal disorders is known as a gastroenterologist. They treat diseases of the esophagus, small intestine, stomach, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, and bile ducts. A gastroenterologist is an answer if you’re wondering when should you see a doctor about GERD.

When to see a Doctor about Acid Reflux?

This was everything on the basics of GERD and how you should get help for this condition. Now, let’s move on to answering the question of when should you see a doctor about GERD. You might question if it's time to contact a doctor about your symptoms when your heartburn starts to interfere with your daily activities. You need to make an appointment immediately if any of the following apply to you.

  • You made changes to your diet and lifestyle, but you're still facing symptoms. Heartburn can be brought on by specific meals and habits, but if you've made adjustments and your symptoms haven't improved, it's time to consult a doctor.
  • You regularly have heartburn two or more times each week. Even if you routinely use antacids to treat heartburn, stomach acid damage to your esophagus may still exist. In such a situation, you have your answer to the question of when to see a doctor about reflux.
  • Over-the-counter drugs are no longer effective. If you're one of those people who have chosen self-medication over a prescription, but your medications don't work anymore, it is seriously time to see the doctor. If this happens, you may require a prescription drug to ease your symptoms and treat any underlying disease. You could also use Zanducare.com’s ayurvedic products and medicines to receive 100% natural treatment. 
  • If you've been taking a PPI for more than eight weeks and don't currently have a gastroenterologist treating you, that is another circumstance where you should consider when to see a doctor about GERD. Prevacid, Nexium, and Prilosec are examples of popular PPIs (Proton PUMP Inhibitor). 

You might believe that since some PPIs are available over the counter, you don't need to see a doctor before using them. It's important to consult a gastroenterologist because long-term PPI use might have undesirable side effects.

The Bottom Line

Although people frequently complain of acid reflux, it should not be disregarded. Sometimes, heartburn can be a cover for more serious illnesses like gallstones. You should wonder when to see a doctor about reflux right away if you have a lot of breathing trouble or significant chest pain.
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