If you suffer from frequent heartburn, there's a good chance that you might be suffering from chronic heartburn. That's right chronic heartburn, and it's not a condition that can be cured easily with the use of over-the-counter drugs like antacids.
For chronic heartburn sufferers, there are a few simple ways to improve your lifestyle to alleviate the pain. Eating smaller quantities at meal times, avoiding acidic foods and beverages, and also avoiding alcohol and smoking, can to a certain extent alleviate your heartburn. Also if you suffer from chronic heartburn, then you probably wake frequently in the night with your chest on fire. A good way to avoid this is not to go to sleep immediately after a meal, and if you can, elevating your head a few inches will help as well.
In fact if you suffer from chronic heartburn, you're probably suffering from Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD as it is more commonly known. If not treated properly, then GERD can lead to more serious problems. Esophageal cancer being one of the more serious cases that can occur.
Most people tend never to go to their doctor with their chronic heartburn, and live with this condition for years. This can result not only in a worsening of their GERD, but can also lead to the complication known as 'Barrett's Esophagus', where the esophagus walls line themselves with new cells similar to those found in the intestines. This in turn leads the chronic heartburn sufferer open to a condition called 'Adenocarcinoma'. In other words, Esophageal cancer.
The other problem you might find yourself facing when you actually do go to your doctor with your case of chronic heartburn is misdiagnosis. Although 40 million Americans alone suffer from heartburn, it is one of the most frequently misdiagnosed conditions, and it's easy to see why.
Doctors can easily miss heartburn as the correct diagnosis, and frequently do, heart attack being the more common diagnosis. It's easy to see why really. The chest pain, the burning sensation just behind your breastbone, shortness of breath, blurry vision, all these can be symptoms of either a heart attack, or heartburn.
For GERD patients, the diagnosis is somewhat simpler. A simple endoscopic exam, where a small camera is threaded to the end of a tube and passed down your throat, is probably the easiest solution to diagnosing whether you suffer from chronic heartburn, GERD, or mild heartburn.
If you have heartburn, and you have attacks more than twice a week - this can be classified as chronic heartburn - then you need to be aware that GERD might be the underlying condition, and not mild indigestion, or heartburn as you might think. And if you suspect that you do have GERD, you should see your doctor as soon as possible to avoid possible complications. Remember it's always better to be safe than sorry.