If you have acid reflux, you may think of it as just an inconvenience, admittedly a pretty painful one at times, but some people see it as simply a condition they can live with as long as they have something to soothe away the pain when it strikes. While this condition is not as immediately serious as a stroke or heart attack for example, however, if left untreated, there can be serious acid reflux esophagus complications.
When suffering with this condition, it’s important to realize that it isn’t just an inconvenience, but can lead to serious health complications. You need to know what you are up against and what you can do to avoid experiencing any complications in the future. There are some simple steps you can take that can save you a lot of pain and help avoid future health risks.
A common acid reflux esophagus complication that sufferers experience is the erosion of the esophagus that can take place when acid is left uncontrolled. The good news is that the esophageal tissue, while easily damaged, can heal when acid reflux is controlled either with the aid of medication or through lifestyle changes.
One option if you suffer from esophageal erosion is to take an over the counter or prescription proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to control the amount of stomach acid your body produces. The PPI’s work to reduce the production of stomach acid, meaning that the risk of reflux is reduced. PPI’s are usually only prescribed for short periods to enable healing but don’t address the underlying cause of why the reflux was occurring in the first place. To tackle this, lifestyle changes are often required. If reflux is left unchecked and erosion continues, scarring can be the result, with associated problems in your sinuses, throat, and lungs.
For some people with chronic cases of acid reflux difficulty may arise with swallowing foods. This problem can be as a result of scar tissue forming in the esophagus due to the long-term presence of acid.
In time, and if left untreated, acid reflux can cause the esophagus to form what are known as peptic strictures. These can block some of the esophagus and lead to problems with swallowing just about any food or even liquids, depending on the location and size of the stricture.
Probably the most problematic acid reflux esophagus complication is a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus can develop when acid reflux is chronic and has been left untreated (though it can also happen in some cases when treatments have been administered), and the effected tissues begin to change within the esophagus.
Due to prolonged exposure to acid, the tissues can change in form similar to those that you would find lining the intestines. Those with this condition (it is most prevalent in white males) have a 125% higher chance of getting what is considered a very rare form of cancer in the esophagus. This is called Esophageal Adenocarcinoma.
These acid reflux esophagus complications can be very serious in nature, and are a good reason to take your acid reflux symptoms very seriously. The odd acid reflux episode is pretty normal and probably isn’t going to cause any lingering problems, but chronic acid reflux, heartburn or GERD that is largely ignored can lead to serious health problems. Discuss medication options with your doctor and consider adopting diet modifications, and even how to better position your body at night so you can minimize the damaged acid can do to your esophagus. If possible, lose weight and stop smoking, if either of those are a problem for you. Sometimes the smallest changes can increase your odds for a healthier outcome by leaps and bounds.