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Eye on Health: Acid reflux

Most of us will experience acid reflux at some point, and for many it can become a problem that impacts daily life.

Treatment, however, can make all the difference.

For Deb Robeck, acid reflux was a real life nightmare.

"I would wake up in the middle of the night and almost choke because of the acid coming into my mouth,” Robeck said. “And that's very disheartening when you're sleeping and all of a sudden you got this, and it's burning – like I was on fire."

At the time, she said, she was overweight, and medicine didn't help.

"It was really bad, really really bad,” Robeck said.

So she sought treatment at Goshen Health.

"I ultimately didn't want to feel sick anymore, and I was sick of feeling sick and tired,” she said.

"Without treatment it can be very drastic where people don't want to eat, they don't want to lay flat,” said Dr. Ross Heil.

Heil is a gastroenterologist at Goshen Health. He said the classic symptoms of acid eflux are heartburn and regurgitation.

"We're looking for problems swallowing, we're looking for chest pain, we're looking for nausea, weight loss, family history of an upper GI malignancy,” Heil said using the initials for gastro-intestinal. “All of those things need to be taken into account when deciding how you're going to treat someone with reflux."

Treatment can vary from medicine to surgery, and a big factor is your weight.

"Any increase pressure on the abdomen is going to promote reflux, and as we've seen America's belt line get larger, we've seen more damage done to the esophagus because of reflux,” Heil said.

Robeck underwent bariatric surgery five years ago.

"That procedure worked for me and took 99 percent away," she said.

Now she is eating smaller portions sizes, choosing healthier options and sleeping through the night.

If you experience acid reflux, it's important to work with your doctor to find the best treatment, but there are also some things you can do at home. Heil recommends exercising and avoiding citrus juices or anything with acid.

Other recommendations are to avoid spices and caffeine and to not smoke.

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