Acid reflux or heartburn is an occasional problem for many and they suffer from it once or several times in a month. But there are some people who suffer from a chronic form of heartburn which is called as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If this problem is not treated in time, it can result in different types of health complications.
When you suffer from acid reflux food, acid and digestive juices flow back into the esophagus. It is the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. It can ultimately result in irritation and swelling which is called as esophagitis. It can develop even when you have acid exposure for just a few weeks. It can result in inflammation of the lining and can be very uncomfortable and painful.
When esophagitis continues for too long, scar tissues can narrow the esophagus. This is called a stricture and when that happens, it can make swallowing hard or painful. Large pieces of food can get stuck there and then you may need endoscopy to remove them. It can also result in choking. Because of the stricture, you may tend to avoid food and water and in that case you will start losing weight.
Throat and first problems
Sometimes people may have heard to diagnose symptoms because of acid reflux or GERD. The main symptom is heartburn but it is not necessary that each and every person suffering from this problem will have the symptom. Some people may also suffer from silent reflux where the patient may not have heartburn symptom but may show other symptoms outside of the esophagus. People suffering from this will show hoarseness, voice change, sore throat or chronic cough. Many people have the sensation that there is a lump in the throat and many of them need to clear their throats constantly.
If acid reflux is left untreated for many years, it can result in precancerous changes in cells and this condition is known as Barrett's esophagus. The patient may not see any symptoms but a doctor can diagnose it with the help of an endoscopy. A portion of people who suffer from Barrett's esophagus may develop esophageal cancer, which is a deadly disease. If you are suffering from heartburn more than twice a week for a long time and if you notice symptoms that are getting worse you're seeing new symptoms, you should immediately go and see your doctor.
GERD can worsen asthma or pneumonia. Even if it does not cause lung problems, it can result in shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing. Treatment of this problem can be a double-edged sword. GERD medications like PPIs can actually increase pneumonia risk and may promote bacterial growth. They can also suppress coughing which could have cleared the lungs.
If the stomach acid and digestive juices reach the esophagus and ultimately the mouth, it can cause a sold based and if it is happening frequently, it can wear away tooth enamel and promote tooth decay. People who suffer from acid reflux and tooth erosion and decay often do not know about it until it reaches the advanced stage. Scientific study found that about 40% of GERD patients suffered from tooth decay in comparison to only 10% of those with no reflux.