The Dangers of Untreated Acid Reflux Disease
By Robin Westen
Around 25 million Americans suffer with gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD). Although it’s fairly common, don’t ignore it. Constant attacks can lead to inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis). And if the inflammation doesn’t get a chance to heal, it can result in more serious health problems like these:
COUGHING AND ASTHMA ATTACKS: Refluxed acid can stimulate nerves related to the lungs. This can lead to a constriction of the airways triggering coughing in non-asthmatics, and may result in an asthma attack if you have it. Continuous lung inflammation can also cause scarring on the lungs, as well as lung infections and pneumonia.
ULCERS:Prolonged esophagitis can lead to damage in the esophagus lining. Once damaged, reflux acid can break through and eat away at the surface of esophagus wall and eventually cause an ulcer or lesion. Ulcers in this area are often painful and if left untreated can lead to bleeding in the esophagus. If severe, a blood transfusion or surgery may be required.
STRICTURES:This happens whenthe inner cavity of the esophagus shrinks and narrows due to the scar tissue of a healed ulcer. A severe stricture can cause swallowed food to become stuck. If the food can’t pass through the esophagus, it needs to be surgically removed. A procedure to stretch the stricture may also be necessary.