Quad Cities, IL/IA

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Debunking Common Heartburn Myths With Dr. Bettaiah Gowda


Submitted by Mississippi Valley Endoscopy Center

If you’re like nearly 60 percent of the adult population, you know the terrible feeling of burning in your chest coupled with a foul taste in your mouth caused by stomach acids rising up your esophagus. It’s likely heartburn, and it’s not fun.

Although heartburn is a fairly common occurrence, there are many misconceptions surrounding its cause, symptoms, and treatments.

We consulted an expert from the Gastrointestinal Clinic of the Quad Cities, Dr. Bettaiah Gowda, to debunk some of the most common myths surrounding heartburn. Dr. Gowda frequently performs his surgeries at the Mississippi Valley Endoscopy Center, a patient-centered facility dedicated to performing colonoscopy, esophageal endoscopy, and other gastrointestinal procedures in Davenport, Iowa.

  1. Myth: the food you consume causes your heartburn.
    While eating certain foods may aggravate heartburn and cause flare ups, that’s not the root of the problem.
    It is important to remember that heartburn is actually a symptom of a problem with the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a muscle located at the base of the esophagus that constricts to prevent stomach acid from rising up the esophagus.

    “Many people think they can control their heartburn by monitoring their diet,” said Dr. Gowda. “While a good diet will help slow down heartburn, if there is a condition causing the lower esophageal sphincter to relax and allowing stomach acid to rise, eating healthy is not necessarily a permanent solution.”

  2. Myth: heartburn is a normal condition that should be treated with simple over-the-counter medication.
    While heartburn can seem like an insignificant irritation, it is very possible that heartburn is a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD can be caused by several issues involving the LES, or it can be caused by a hiatal hernia — which is when the stomach bulges into the chest through an opening normally reserved for the esophagus.

    “It is very common to see patients who have been taking antacids constantly to fight heartburn not realizing they have GERD,” said Dr. Gowda. “Using medication to cover up your symptoms will not stunt the underlying condition, not to mention the side effects that can be caused by constantly taking antacids.”

  3. Myth: heartburn isn’t a serious condition.
    Many people don’t know that heartburn can be a symptom of a more serious condition, which if left untreated, can have more significant ramifications. GERD, for example, can cause long-term damage to the esophagus or even evolve into a more serious condition if it’s not treated. Chronic heartburn conditions can also be pre-cancerous and lead to cancer of the esophagus.
    Less commonly, heartburn can also be caused by an ulcer in the esophagus or a condition called gastritis, which is an erosion of the stomach’s lining.

    “I believe if more people knew how a more serious condition could be causing their frequent heartburn, they would be more likely to seek a specialist,” said Dr. Gowda. “There are several ways to catch these conditions early and find a solution that will eliminate the heartburn, as well as the underlying cause before it gets serious.”

  4. Myth: minimally invasive procedures are not available.
    A procedure can be intimidating. However, advances in technology have made many procedures — including those involving the mouth and throat — much less invasive. Dr. Gowda and the team at the Mississippi Valley Endoscopy Center, located at 5041 Utica Ridge Road, Suite 200, Davenport, IA, are experts in performing gastrointestinal endoscopies.

    During the procedure, a physician inserts a thin, flexible fiber-optic instrument that is passed through the mouth to see whether there is any damage to the lining of the esophagus or stomach.

It is an excellent procedure for spotting potentially serious conditions early and is the only way to identify Barrett’s esophagus, which is a pre-cancerous condition found in people who experience chronic heartburn.

“My patients are happily surprised with the relative ease of their experience at the Endoscopy Center,” said Dr. Gowda. “We have a dedicated staff that is committed to ensuring our patients are as comfortable as possible at all times. The procedure is painless and can be completed with only a light sedative. It is so vital to making that life-altering catch of a potentially serious condition in its early stages.”

To learn more about Mississippi Valley Surgery Center & Endoscopy Center, go to www.mvhealth.net and visit Facebook at facebook.com/MississippiValleySurgeryCenter.

To learn more about the Gastrointestinal Clinic of the Quad Cities, go to https://www.mvhealth.net/practices/gastrointestinal-clinic-quad-cities and visit Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/gicqc/.