over the next few weeks because I will only make myself more stressed than I am. Why is that you might ask?
I have suffered from heart burn (acid reflux) for a long as I can remember and in fact took some delight in the fact that pickle onions, my favourite food as a teenager, made it worse. However, over the last 18 months, it has gotten so bad, anything seeming to trigger it off. On a few occasions it has also resulted in vomited up bile, very distressing. Realising my body was trying to tell me that I need to change my diet, I cut out alcohol for a few weeks and tried to limit the high fat foods I love.
I had tried heartburn medication last year when I went to the doctor about a persistent cough I had at the time. Apparently, it was caused by my constant heartburn. Unfortunately, although it helped with the heart burn, it had the worse side effect- severe constipation. Then a few weeks back I tried an over the counter heartburn medication,called Prilosec. That worked but it advises you on the back to continue for only few weeks and if you symptoms continue, visit your doctor. Well, my symptoms came back and were worse.
So knowing my GP would refer me to same doctor I used for my colonscopy, I made an appointment with the gastroenterologist. He didn’t seem too concerned, especially as the pills work. He explained there might be a small hiatus hernia but if there was, he would just recommend keeping on the pills as the operation to repair a hernia is very painful, difficult and often not successful. However, (as I suspected) he would need to do an endoscope examination to confirm this and check out any scarring , maybe take some biopsies. Great, no concerns and endoscope booked for 12th July.
Then I start checking out endoscope on the internet and that leads to reading why an endoscope is required and that led on something called Barrett’s Esophagus which is linked to prolonged acid reflux. That led on to esophageal cancer So you see the progress I have made- simple acid reflux to esophageal cancer- a giant leap. The scary thing about esophageal cancer is that many people do not realise they have it until they are stage IV as the warning symptoms are
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Weight loss without trying
- Chest pain, pressure or burning
- Frequent choking while eating
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Coughing or hoarseness
Most people present with difficulty with swallowing, often not realising that they have acid reflux as not everyone has heartburn but have the following symptoms –
- Nausea after eating
- Stomach fullness or bloating
- Upper abdominal pain and discomfort
Let face, we have all had these symptoms from time to time but suppose, if its an ongoing thing, you really should seek a Doctor’s opinion but many doctors are like us and assume acid reflux is part of modern life, poor diet and obesity. There is also a perception that esophageal cancer is a rare cancer which was true 20 yrs ago but now it is rising, especially amongst white men.
Here is a link to a good article on the disease ‘you can’t die from heartburn’
Anyway has you can I have gotten myself way too involved in this subject, when all I probably have is heartburn. However, I prefer to know this sort of thing than go into a examination and waking up to find I have such a serious condition like a lot of people.
I think the worse thing is that if doctors took heartburn seriously and did an endoscope very early in this disease, it has a good cure rate. But if you are presenting with difficult swallowing, then you have probably got a pretty advance stage of this disease. Hopefully the capsule they mention in the article, is developed for general use.
So roll on July 12th and then I can be super hypochondria about another thing.