A recent study reported that Americans spend an average of $2.5 billion each year on over-the-counter heartburn remedies and antacids. While occasional heartburn is rarely cause for alarm, if you’re experiencing continuous acid reflux you may be at risk for more serious conditions of the esophagus including GERD, Barrett’s esophagus and even esophageal cancer. The board-certified GI specialists at La Peer Health Systems’ Barrett’s Esophagus Center of Excellence offer the following suggestions for keeping your esophagus healthy and reducing your chances of developing more serious GI problems.

1. Quit Smoking Tobacco

You probably know that smoking cigarettes raises your risk of developing lung cancer and other conditions. However, you may not be aware that doctors have linked tobacco usage to an increased risk of esophageal cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, individuals who smoke a pack or more a day face twice the risk of developing an esophageal cancer called adenocarcinoma than people who do not smoke.

2. Cut Down On Alcohol Use

Drinking too much alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of esophageal cancer, and patients who both smoke and drink suffer an even greater cancer risk. The doctors at the Barrett’s Esophagus Center advise patients to quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption to protect themselves from cancer and other health conditions.

3. Exercise Regularly

People who are obese suffer from acid reflux in greater numbers than those who maintain a healthy weight. For this reason, individuals who are overweight may be more likely to develop Barrett’s disease and other esophageal conditions including cancer. At the Barrett’s Esophagus Center of Excellence, our board-certified GI doctors recommend that patients exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight to help protect the health of the esophagus.

4. Eat Well

As part of maintaining a healthy weight, our GI specialists advise patients to eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. In a recent study, researchers compared the dietary habits of individuals with Barrett’s esophagus to the habits of those without the condition. According to the study, individuals who consumed the largest quantity of vegetables were 70 percent less likely to suffer from Barrett’s esophagus. If you’re experiencing persistent acid reflux, you may want to consider talking to the doctors at the Barrett’s Esophagus Center about designing a plan for healthy eating.

5. Get Treated for GERD

People with persistent reflux should also be tested for GERD, or gastrointestinal reflux disease. A condition in which acid escapes from the stomach to damage the esophagus, GERD can progress into other conditions of the esophagus such as Barrett’s disease and even cancer. The good news is that getting treated for GERD can reduce your chances of developing these more serious problems. If you’re suffering from GERD, you shouldn’t hesitate to contact the doctors at the Barrett’s Esophagus Center.

6. Contact Our Esophagus Experts

If you’re concerned about GERD, Barrett’s disease or esophageal cancer, don’t wait to schedule an appointment at La Peer’s Barrett’s Esophagus Center of Excellence. Call (888) 548-7614 to learn more about protecting the health of your esophagus.