Greenville, S.C. (WSPA)– Having acid reflux, once in a while, is common according to the national institutes of health. Experiencing it regularly could be a sign of a more serious condition.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, we spoke with an expert about knowing when to seek medical attention.

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux or heartburn, happens when the stomach contents travel back up into the esophagus.

“The main cause for acid reflux is weakening of the gastroesophageal junction, which is the muscle that separates the esophagus to the stomach”

Dr. Rhody Fawaz, Gastroenterologist , Bon Secours St. Francis

Dr. Rhody Fawaz, a gastroenterologist, says it can happen to anyone from time to time, but some are more at risk than others for the more severe, long-lasting form of acid reflux known as GERD.

“One is age, two is obesity, and three is diet and lifestyle changes,” said Dr. Fawaz.

GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease can lead to scarring or cancer in the esophagus if left untreated.

“Treatment of reflux disease for patients who suffer from reflux is a chronic therapy, including diet and medication. Some patients who have chronic reflux disease can be predisposed to esophageal cancer.”

Dr. Rhody Fawaz, Gastroenterologist , Bon Secours St. Francis

If you are struggling with occasional acid reflux, eliminating fatty foods and carbonated beverages from your diet can help.

“Eating smaller meals. Not eating heavily. Not eating late… and they can try it for two to three week periods of time,” said Dr. Fawaz.

If your acid reflux doesn’t go away and is accompanied by difficulty swallowing, bleeding, or weight loss– it’s time to see the doctor.

Dr. Fawaz says if you are having trouble discerning your reflux from other chest pains, also seek medical attention.

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