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Heartburn FAQs (cont.)

How can I prevent heartburn?

Many cases of heartburn can be prevented by simple lifestyle modifications in diet, activity, and habits. Watching what kinds of foods eaten and how much food is eaten can reduce symptoms. Also, pay attention to body position after eating. Don't lie down. Limit alcohol intake, quit smoking, and lose weight to improve not only heartburn symptoms but also overall health.

What happens if I stop treatment?

Most cases of heartburn are treated effectively with lifestyle modifications, antacids, or prescription drugs. However, relapse is common when treatment is stopped. Serious complications, such as bleeding or difficulty swallowing, are rare. Other possible problems caused by acid back-up include inflammation of the throat, voice box, and airways. If left untreated for years, chronic heartburn has been said to lead to Barrette's esophagus (a change in the lining cells of the esophagus) and, eventually, cancer of the esophagus.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

REFERENCE: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/27/2016
Medical Editor:

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