Let's say you enjoy a large, delicious meal and then experience the unpleasant symptoms of acid reflux. You might be tempted to think that those symptoms are no big deal, just something to be tolerated. After all, what's a little heartburn when we have the good fortune to have such wonderful meals?
However, there's no reason to simply endure flare-ups of acid reflux. Acid reflux isn't caused by any one choice that a person makes, be it smoking, overeating or drinking coffee. Those are all triggers of the condition, but the actual condition is caused by that malfunctioning valve we mentioned on the previous page. Just as it's not smart to ignore the sounds made by one malfunctioning part on your car, it's unwise to ignore your body.
In most cases, acid reflux can be relieved with an over-the-counter or prescription treatment. However, about 15 percent of the people who suffer acid reflux are doing permanent damage to their esophagus [source: Jaret]. The acid can damage the esophageal lining and in some cases, lead to a precancerous condition known as Barrett's esophagus. If you suffer acid reflux or heartburn frequently, see a doctor. While not all acid reflux leads to cancer (and while it's not a prerequisite for a cancerous condition), it's better to be safe than sorry.