I was naive. I had just put the pain down to indigestion
Fried food and fizzy drinks spelled hours of misery for Chris Abley. But it never occurred to him that the agonising burning sensation he felt in his chest whenever he ate certain foods was an actual medical condition.
In some instances, acid reflux can eventually develop into cancer of the oesophagus.
The 46-year-old said: "I suppose I was a little naive. I just lived with it after it began, when I was in my late teens to early 20s.
"I would get this burning feeling in my chest and felt bloated, but I just put it down to indigestion.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
"It was quite random when it came on. It was worse after I had eaten spicy or fried foods and fizzy drinks.
"I was working late hours and didn't always eat at regular times and thought the feeling was down to those things."
Five years ago, Mr Abley, of Leicester Forest East, was working as a research assistant with a doctor who specialised in cancer of the oesophagus and other similar conditions.
Mr Abley said: "We happened to be chatting when the doctor, Professor Janusz Jankowski, said it sounded as if I was suffering from acid reflux, or a condition called Barrett's Oesophagus, and suggested I go to my GP for referral to a specialist."
An endoscopy revealed that the cells in Mr Abley's oesophagus – the tube which takes food down to the stomach – had changed due to the acid reflux.
The condition is known as Barrett's Oesophagus.
Mr Abley said: "The cells had changed to protect the oesophagus from burning caused by the acid reflux.
"The danger is that these cells can develop into cancer.
"But I was given some tablets and within a week all the discomfort I had suffered had gone.
"Suddenly, after years of suffering this heartburn I realised that I could do something abut it.
"My mental health has improved because I am not constantly in pain and I just feel lighter and freer.
"The thought of going out with friends for a meal is no longer daunting. I still have to be careful what I eat and I do avoid acidic and fatty foods."
Mr Abley is now working with his specialist doctor to set up a charity to support fellow sufferers.
It is called Fort – fighting oesophageal reflux together.
He said: "It is a local charity at the moment, but the aim is for it to become better known nationally.
"We want recognition of reflux, something which affects nearly a third of adults, Barrett's and related conditions.
"We are currently working to put together a focus group of patients to advise on how they would like to see health services provided to help them with their condition.
"We estimate that there are at least 7,000 people across Leicestershire suffering from reflux and similar conditions."