Occasional heartburn or acid reflux is not uncommon. In fact, many suffer from frequent throat or stomach pain. However, if you experience it two or more times a week, you may be at risk for serious complications.
Repeated exposure to harmful stomach acid can dramatically affect the lining of the esophagus. Those with severe cases of heartburn and acid reflux may be diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If left untreated, many sufferers may develop esophagitis or severe inflammation of the esophagus.
Complications of Untreated GERD
If these conditions are not brought under control, stomach acid may continue to further damage your esophagus. Repeated damage may lead to further complications including:
- Esophageal stricture: Narrowing of the esophagus caused by scar tissue resulting from GERD.
- Barrett’s Esophagus: A precancerous condition which causes severe inflammation resulting in abnormal cell development.
- Dysphagia: Difficulty swallowing.
Preventing Further Damage
Treatment is dependent upon the cause and severity of esophageal discomfort. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider. In many instances, a simple dietary modification may alleviate sufferers’ symptoms.
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