By Veronica Kirigo
If you have experienced frequent and persistent cases of heartburn and indigestion, you need to seek medical attention as the problem could be bigger than these symptoms may suggest. Medical experts say such symptoms may point to an endemic condition known as reflux disorder, which if untreated, may lead to serious diseases such as cancer, strictures and ear and teeth complications.
Thus, you should not ignore these symptoms or rush for known over-the-counter medication as you may be treating symptoms as a serious medical disorder worsens, doctors now warn.
At a recent meeting on the effective management of Reflux Disorder, doctors and pharmacists said a majority of Kenyans, who are not aware of the condition, have been treating the symptoms with over-the-counter antacids, which do not treat the illness.
“We have been treating the iceberg, with the patient going to see a specialist when the condition is so severe,” said Prof Godfrey Lule a consultant gastrointestinal.
He observed that there has been a notable increase in the new and recurrent cases of reflux disorder they are handling.
“We see four patients out of 20 with reflux disorder. This cases are severe and in need of specialised treatment,” said Lule.
He attributed the situation to multiple causes owing to the type of lifestyle people are living. “With the changing lifestyles, we have seen more people turning to spicy foods. This, coupled with other factors such as stress, alcohol consumption and smoking, has seen more people suffer from illnesses relating to the digestive system and particularly reflux disorder.”
Lule cautioned that although the main symptoms are heartburn and indigestion, there are other problems that manifest and conceal the diseases.
For those patients who don’t self-medicate or use milk to relive heartburn, they see clinical officers or pharmacists for help.