Gastrointestinal reflux disease affects one in five adults in the United States. *As a result, more than 20 million Americans take acid reflux medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Although these medications can mask symptoms, they do not block the harmful effects of stomach acid on the delicate tissues of the esophagus, which can lead to serious conditions including:
- Barrett’s esophagus
This affects the lining of your esophagus and can lead to esophageal cancer if left untreated.
This is an inflammation of the esophagus caused by acid and bile entering from the stomach. This can cause symptoms such as a heartburn sensation or pain when swallowing. Symptoms are usually treated with acid reflux medication. If the condition continues or recurs, a discussion with you physician about reflux surgery may be necessary.
This is a tightening or narrowing of the esophagus caused by prolonged exposure to gastric acid and other fluids. This can make swallowing difficult and sometimes impossible. This can be treated with an endoscopic dilation or stretching of the esophagus, but recurrence is possible. Treating the cause, which can sometimes be GERD, is key to preventing further strictures.
- Breathing problems
This happens when stomach contents from your esophagus go into your lungs.
- Esophageal Cancer
Esophageal cancer usually begins the inner layers of tissue and muscle of the esophagus and grows outward. This is the most common type of esophageal cancer, called adenocarcinmoa.