Cancer Alert! Chronic Heartburn May Be an Early Warning Sign of Certain Cancer Types
We usually associate vocal cord and other throat cancers with bad habits, like smoking and alcohol abuse. Chronic heartburn, however, may be a far more accurate forerunner of these types of cancers. What did a recent study reveal to be the best way to protect yourself if you face heartburn issues regularly? Is it medication prescribed by a physician? Believe it or not, antacids may reduce throat cancer risk.
But, haven’t previous studies attempting to connect throat and larynx cancer to acid reflux proven inconclusive? While this is true, those studies were all on a very small scale and didn’t factor in many variables. The study in question is comprehensive, involving many individuals over a longer period of time. Over 1,800 people participated in the study, with approximately two thirds of those individuals serving as the control group.
The participants were surveyed to learn more about factors in their life that could result in various throat cancers, including their personal habits, family and medical histories, and certain demographic information. They also had to be tested for HPV 16 antibodies, since HPV has been linked to throat cancers and could have skewed study results.
In the end, the study revealed a 78 percent greater risk of the predicted forms of cancers for those with chronic heartburn, even if they didn’t use alcohol or cigarettes. On the other hand, those who used antacids to fight their heartburn saw a 41 percent decrease in risk. The antacid users did not take prescription drugs to fight the condition nor were they using homeopathic remedies.
While more research is needed, these initial results seem to indicate antacids may reduce throat cancer risk, particularly among high risk individuals. The study findings may also help doctors identify and screen people who are at higher risk for throat and vocal cord cancers for early intervention.
The Difficulty in Diagnosing Voice Problems
There are many people who rely on a consistent voice to make a living. Performers need to sound the same on stage, night after night; just as they do in the recording studio, take after take. Voice actors need to sound the same in every episode they record. Television stars have to sound the same from week to week. But the arts aren’t the only jobs that require a consistent voice. Lawyers need to be able to speak convincingly and at an audible volume day after day in court. Teachers need to be heard by their classes. Public speakers also rely on their voice, and the list goes on and on. So what happens when voice issues start to occur? Diagnosing the issue quickly can be very difficult.
The fact is that there are a large number of conditions that can cause voice changes, and not all of those underlying causes are physical. True, diseases, cysts, muscle tension, or nodules may be to blame. It is also possible, however, for the voice issues to be psychological. In fact, anxiety is a frequent cause of vocal changes. So what are the keys to diagnosis?
Often, the combination of an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist) and a therapist will be used to make a faster diagnosis. The ear, nose, and throat doctor will look for physical damage and obstructions to the vocal chords using a stroboscopy, or other tests that measure the acoustics of the vocal chords. The therapist will probe for signs of a psychological cause of the vocal issues.
Individuals who suffer from voice problems generally need a personalized solution due to the sheer variety of potential causes of the problem. A combination of medications, surgery, or therapy may be the solution to your problem, and the key to getting your voice back to where your job needs it to be.
Little-Known Symptoms of Reflux
For many, reflux disease means bouts of uncomfortable heartburn. While this is a very common symptom closely associated with acid reflux, it is by no means the only one. Patients may not even realize they have issues with reflux because they may be unaware of the other indicators. Physicians may suggest that reflux is the cause, but the idea may be quickly rejected. The good news is that for those with acid reflux, once a diagnosis is made, there are steps that can be taken to reduce or eliminate symptoms.
The symptoms that a person may experience from reflux disease can vary according to severity of the illness and the time that has passed without treatment. Doctors would like to see an increased awareness of some of the other results patients may experience from reflux. Often, the symptoms other than heartburn are not as obvious. Here are a few of those common yet little-known symptoms of acid reflux.
Some of the most common symptoms involve the throat. Constant clearing of the throat, a feeling that something is trapped in the throat, a sore throat, and a hoarse voice can all be signs pointing to reflux. If a patient wakes up during the night with a cough, or if regurgitation happens from time to time, these could also be symptoms of reflux. Sometimes a difficulty with swallowing and an excess of phlegm are other indicators.
Many of the other results that manifest from acid reflux may not usually be associated with the illness. However, if these are experienced, even if it is in the absence of heartburn, it could be a case of untreated reflux. With drug therapy, diet changes, and weight loss, it is possible to manage or even be rid of these symptoms completely.
A common condition that often goes undiagnosed is a voice disorder. Many simply ignore the condition or do not recognize it for what it is. Many have postulated that voice disorders are more common amongst females. This may be because of the fact that many women have jobs and responsibilities that require more time speaking each day, such as teaching, reception, law and administrative assisting. And some women are stay-at-home moms, and young children can keep conversations going all day with a simple question: Why?
What are the symptoms that reveal the beginning of a voice disorder? Don’t ignore it if you suffer from pain when you speak, have frequent sore throats, have difficulties in controlling the volume of your voice or have persistent bouts of hoarseness. You may also experience having to frequently cough or clear your throat while speaking. Smoking and frequent yelling are two habits that can both put a person at greater risk for a voice disorder and should thus be avoided.
What else can you do to help prevent a voice disorder? Be sure to drink the recommended amount of water each day. Keeping your throat moist is the best way to protect your voice. If you frequently have to speak to large groups (meetings at work, etc.), try having a PA system set up so you don’t have to strain your voice to be heard. Breathe properly and practice speaking from the diaphragm rather than straining your voice as well. Limit the intake of liquids that dry you out, such as alcohol and coffee. Finally, try not to overstrain your voice, as in shouting at concerts or sporting events.
If you start to experience symptoms of a voice disorder, don’t be afraid to see a specialist to have it checked out. Your ability to communicate is too important to ignore.
What’s acid reflux? It’s the backflow of anything from the stomach into the esophagus. Whether it’s from stomach acid or food, acid reflux can be painful in esophagus or lead to complications when it reaches the throat or even the voice box.
Depending on the underlying condition, a person may not even need to eat in order to experience reflux. They don’t need to be in any particular position, and it can happen at any time.
Laryngopharyngeal reflux is a particular kind of acid reflux that may often go unnoticed. This is because it lasts such a brief amount of time that the sufferer may not experience noticeable heartburn as a result. The problem is that the reflux is still doing damage to the throat and larynx.
If the reflux reaches all the way to the back of the throat or the voice box, serious complications can occur. So how can you tell if you have this harmful condition? If the reflux reaches the voice box, chronic hoarseness can become a problem. You may cough or have to clear your throat regularly, and some experience problems swallowing.
In some cases, a person may experience heartburn so don’t discount laryngopharyngeal reflux just because it doesn’t usually result in indigestion. You should consult an ear, nose, and throat specialist if you are experiencing these symptoms. Smoking can increase the likelihood of this condition, so if you experience these symptoms and are a smoker, there is an even greater urgency to both seek a medical opinion and to also kick the smoking habit.
If your doctor suspects this condition, he may check your voice box for inflammation as a diagnosis. Your general practitioner can recommend an ear, nose, and throat specialist to assist with treatment.