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Can acid reflux cause serious problems?

Chronic acid reflux can lead to inflammation in the lining of the esophagus. This is called esophagitis. It also can cause erosions or ulceration, and narrowing of the esophagus (stricture). You may experience heartburn or indigestion; but you also can have severe chest pain and may not be able to swallow solid foods. Over time, the cells that line the esophagus can change and a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus may occur. Once this change occurs, you are at an increased risk for the development of esophageal cancer. At this point, your physician should monitor you with periodic endoscopy and biopsy. Anti-reflux surgery can halt the progression of the disease, and sometimes lead to regression.

Dr. Gary W. Falk, MD
Gastroenterologist

Acid reflux—the reflux of stomach acid into your esophagus—is a condition that if left untreated can lead to more serious problems in the future. Untreated acid reflux over a long period of time can develop into esophageal inflammation and esophageal strictures—narrowed areas in the esophagus that can make swallowing difficult. It is also a risk factor for Barrett’s esophagus which is a risk factor for esophageal cancer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.