September 2013

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thrive wellbeing health wise Feeling the (Heart)Burn When it's time to see your doc a little heartburn after a 2x/Week talk to your doctor if you experience reflux this often or more. night out with the girls is normal. Recurring reflux beating up your insides on a daily basis could be something serious that could damage your esophagus, according to Dr. Sumona Saha, director of gastrointestinal disorders at UW Health's Pregnancy Clinic. "Given the fundamental role of the digestive tract in processing nutrients it is, important to address any digestive issues which may derail that process," she says. "Damage over time can lead to scarring and strictures of the esophagus and increases the risk of esophageal cancer." Dr. Saha notes that heartburn is the most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but there are others that might indicate it's time to visit your doctor: Regurgitation, difficulty swallowing and the feeling that food is stuck in your chest, all point to poor gastric motility, or movement of food through the digestive system. While GERD can develop at any age, Dr. Saha cautions that pregnant women are particularly susceptible. "This is due to pregnancy hormones and possibly increased intra-abdominal pressure caused by the growing uterus," she explains. About half of women experience GERD during pregnancy. Outside of pregnancy, Dr. Saha suggests addressing other risk factors to keep heartburn and possibly long-term damage at bay. Obesity, smoking, alcohol use and frequent consumption of all of the good stuff—caffeine, chocolate, spicy foods, carbonated drinks— can lead to GERD. Avoiding late night meals can help as well, since digestion works best when we're upright. As with any condition, if overthe-counter remedies are getting you through the day, you may be masking signs of a more serious problem. Listen to your body and take note of what you are putting in it to avoid long-term issues. –Emily Leas NEWS FLASH NEW Clinic Openings Phases Primary Health Care for Women recently opened an internal medicine clinic in Fitchburg. Founded by a team of three OB/GYNs, the clinic specializes in wellness for every phase of life, from adolescence to menopause. 30 brava magazine | september 2013 It's hard to miss the three-story UW Health Digestive Health Center that opened this spring on University Ave. The outpatient clinic aims to bring surgeons, gastroenterologists and other practitioners together to provide more effective care.

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