When is Nighttime Heartburn a Serious Problem? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/22/02

When is Nighttime Heartburn a Serious Problem?

If heartburn keeps you awake at night, you may want to do more than just take another antacid. According to the National Cancer Institute, in the last 20 years, cancer of the esophagus in caucasian men has increased a staggering 350%. The thinking now is that although antacids can help temporarily, if you take too many, for too long, you may be hiding a much more serious problem,  especially if you develop night reflux.

"You don't perceive the reflux, so you're not able to do something to counteract the problem. Of course, at night, you are lying down, so you do not have the effect of gravity. You will tend to have more reflux in that regard. You are not swallowing as often," says Dr. Sheryl Pfeil, a Gastroenterologist at Ohio State University Medical Center.

Dr. Sheryl Pfiel is a specialist at the Ohio State University Medical Center. She says that the acid in your stomach is so strong that when it touches the lining in your esophagus it can actually burn the tissue and scar it, and that could lead to cancer. She says that when you're asleep, the acid sits in the esophagus longer doing more damage.

So, she says if heartburn tends to wake you up at night, be sure to see your doctor about that. A simple office procedure could tell them how bad your reflux is, how much damage has been done, and what they can do to fix it.

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