Having chronic acid reflux not only is uncomfortable, it can be dangerous.
People who've been dealing with it for longer than five years are actually at risk of developing cancer. But the good news is, there is treatment close to home. Learn more about it in MedWatch.
"I was concerned about taking the pills for so long."
Stephon Kriszt is checking in with his doctor at Munson Medical Center -- just 26 miles from his home in Benzonia. He was driving 800 miles to the Mayo Clinic for treatment.
"It was at times horrendous because my wife doesn't drive much and it's quite the haul," explains Kriszt. "You have to go all the way up through Chicago and then back up. During the summer you can take the ferry across which is a lot better, but it gets to be expensive.
Stephon has Barrett's esophagus -- a precancerous throat condition that is caused by acid reflux.
"There is a significant rise in the cancer of the esophagus arising in Barrett's esophagus so that seems to be one of the few gastrointestinal cancers that is increasing in it's frequency and it probably relates to the American diet and obesity," says Digestive health associates gastroenterologist Dr. Robert Barnes, M.D.
When Stephon was originally diagnosed, he was sent to the University of Michigan, where they wanted to remove his esophagus.
"I did not particularly care for having my throat removed. It's nine inches of your throat. They have to bust a rib, they have to disconnect your stomach and then pull it up and staple it."
When he did some research, he found radio frequency ablation at Mayo.
Dr. Barnes explains, "so we can insert the instrument into the esophagus and then essentially burn or singe that inner layer right off with the endoscope, and as long as we treat reflux, then what grows back into it's place is the natural squamous cells that belong there in the first place."
Doctors do the treatment about four times over the course of a year -- and that typically takes care of things.
When Stephon had a recurrence, he learned about Dr. Robert Barnes, and found he had a much closer option for treatment.
"They pretty much have it under control and if they can get rid of it completely, then I just have to come back once a year for a check us and that's it. Cancer free, don't have to worry about it -- its' good."