Complications that may occur in long-term Acid Reflux

Though lifestyle habits and healthy eating habits may be capable to reduce the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (or acid reflux disease), they are not able to cure the disease. Left unseen by a medical specialist and untreated for a longer period of time, acid reflux disease can seriously impact the body by irritating the lining of the esophagus, a cause for later, more serious complications.

What is gastroesophageal reflux disease?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a chronic condition in which mucosal damage is caused by the stomach acid coming up into the esophagus. Acid reflux is usually caused by the abnormal relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter changes in the valve between the stomach and the esophagus.

What are the most severe long-term complications of acid reflux?
Barrett’s Esophagus is a condition characterized by intestinal metaplasia, which usually precedes carcinoma. Because of the risk of chronic heartburn progressing to Barrett’s, patients with acid reflux are recommended to undergo esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) at least every five years. It is observed that patients with Barrett’s esophagus have significantly increased chances to develop esophageal cancer compared to acid reflux patients without Barrett’s. Symptoms of the condition include: frequent and longstanding heartburn, difficulty swallowing, vomiting blood, chest pain and unintentional weight loss.

Esophageal Cancer is the cancer of the tissues of the esophagus. Despite all efforts of medical scientists, the actual cause of cancer remains unidentified, but a definite link can be made gastroesophageal reflux disease and esophageal cancer. Symptoms include difficult, painful, and husky cough, as a result of the tumor affecting the laryngeal nerve.

Laryngeal Cancer is the cancerous disease of the larynx and the condition is associated with preexisting acid reflux disease. Symptoms include hoarseness and other voice changes, lump in the neck, sore throat, persistent cough, bad breath, earache.

Erosive Esophagitis is the inflammation and swelling of the esophagus commonly caused by acid stomach that makes its way back up into the esophagus. Symptoms include pain in the chest or abdomen, nausea, etc.

Esophageal Stricture is a narrowing or tightening of the esophagus which can lead difficulties in swallowing food. Symptoms of esophageal strictures include heartburn, acid taste in the mouth, coughing, shortness of breath, and frequent burping or hiccups. Severe symptoms include pain or difficulty swallowing, throwing up blood and weight loss.

A simple glance at the list above is enough to point out the life-threatening aspect of a neglected acid reflux case. It is in consequence important to contact a medical specialist as soon as the first signs and symptoms of acid reflux disease are observed. Early diagnosis is one of the surest ways to keep the disease under control. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits can only help maintain good overall health.

To learn about laparoscopic surgical treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease and whether or not you are a candidate for such an intervention, contact a specialized medical specialist.