Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition which occurs when stomach acids back up into the esophagus on a regular basis. It often produces frequent or severe symptoms which affect the individual’s quality of life, and if left untreated, can result in serious damage to the esophagus, pharynx, or respiratory tract.
Other complications may include:
- Esophagitis - An inflammation of the esophagus that can range from inflamed mucosa (inner lining of the esophagus) to erosive ulcers. Gastrointestinal bleeding may occur in such damaged areas.
- Esophageal stricture - Area of thickened esophageal wall that narrows the lumen (the channel through which food must pass). Strictures may occur in patients who have had relatively severe esophagitis.
- Barrett's esophagus - A condition resulting from the abnormal healing of erosive esophagitis. The risk of developing Barrett's is greater in patients with more severe and long-standing reflux symptoms. This condition has a tendency to develop into cancer of the esophagus.