Most people will suffer with acid reflux at some point in their lives, whether by eating certain foods that trigger the condition or having a sensitivity to it.
What many are unaware of though, is that suffering with acid reflux for a number of years increases a person’s risk of Barrett’s oesophagus, which could eventually develop into oesophageal cancer.
Oesophageal cancer is the 14th most common cancer in the UK with around 9,300 new cases each year.
For Kevin Fowlie, 42, acid reflux was a part of his life and he suffered from it for 10 painful years.
He spoke with the Daily Mirror to discuss his symptoms and one of the best treatments out there to help others with acid reflux and GERD.
Heartburn is extremely common, affecting up to one in four UK adults.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a more serious form of acid reflux.
Foods notorious for increasing acid reflux and heartburn include fried and fast food, pizza, chips, fatty meats and cheese.
Occasional heartburn is not serious, but experiencing the accompanying symptoms over a long period of time could lead to serious health outcomes, including cancer.
“For the last 10 years, I have had acid reflux,” Kevin explained. “My symptoms would include a sore throat, heartburn, constantly feeling congested, lethargic, burping and excessive wind.
“Sometimes, I’d sweat excessively at night and occasionally woke up choking due to reflux.
“It got to the point where I’d been given many conceivable proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) medication that the GP could prescribe.”
He added that despite being apprehensive about the PPIs and their possible side effects, he was on the medication for the whole 10 years.
“I approached my doctor and asked to be referred to a good gastroenterologist privately. I was diagnosed with GERD and hiatus hernia.
“What was worrying to hear was that long-term acid reflux can become a serious issue, and after 10 years with GERD it could lead to a condition known as Barrett’s oesophagus, which is a precursor to oesophageal cancer.”
Finally, being diagnosed with the condition, Kevin was able to try an alternative medication to help with painful symptoms.
“I was offered a new procedure called transoral incisionless fundoplication – ‘TIF’. I thought it sounded good as it was done by endoscopy and no incisions involved, so recovery was a lot quicker and less painful. I managed to get an appointment with Dr Rehan Haidry, whom I found due to his experience with this procedure. I couldn’t wait to get it sorted.”
Since his TIF procedure back in February, Kevin has seen a noticeable improvement.
According to one survey of 472 adults with GERD, only 13% had ever been advised by their doctor to undergo screening endoscopy and even fewer actually had the imaging test.
“I’ve come off the omeprazole (PPI) and I feel a lot more energetic than I have done in years and much more motivated to do things I haven’t done for a while,” Kevin added.
“I do occasionally get a flare-up but that’s usually because I have pushed it in terms of what I’ve eaten and drunk.
“As you feel better, you start trying foods and drinks which may have been problematic previously but you need to ease your way back in.”