Heartburn is a common problem among many people, which is often ignored by us. It is also known as acid reflux or acidity. GERD or gastro esophageal reflux disease is a condition, where the contents of the stomach leak back to the esophagus. This can cause some kind of irritation and burning sensation in the chest region and throat. If it’s regular problem, you should take special care . If not treated on time it can cause a lot of other complications. Here are 12 risks associated with it.
1. Erosive esophagitis
If the problem of acidity is continuing for a long time, then it can lead to erosive esophagitis. It is nothing but the swelling and inflammation of the esophagus caused by the acids in the stomach. The intensity of this condition can increase depending on the severity and duration of the condition.
2. Esophageal ulcers
An ulcer is caused when there is a breakage in the wall of the esophagus. It usually occurs when there is inflammation. The inflammation and ulcers can cause the blood vessels in the esophagus to erode leading to bleeding. If the bleeding is severe, a blood transfusion may be necessary with the help of a surgery.
Most of the ulcers in the esophagus may heal and leave scars. After some time, the tissues of the scar shrink and make the lumen narrow. This stricture can cause a lot of problems while swallowing.
4. Barrett’s esophagus
This is a condition where the muscular lining of the esophagus is replaced with a kind of tissue found usually in the intestine. People who have developed the Barrett’s esophagus are 30-125 time more likely to have esophageal cancer.
5. Esophageal cancer
The formation of malignant cells in the tissues of the esophagus can result in esophageal cancer. Though the reasons for cancer have not been defined, there are some links between esophageal cancer and acid reflux. The cancer is of two types, Squamous carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.
6. Laryngeal cancer
According to several researchers, laryngeal cancer is associated with GERD in certain ways. Cancer of larynx is the place where the vocal cords are found.
7. Cough and asthma
Various studies state that about 32-80% of the asthma cases have reflux disorder. Shortness of breath, cough and other symptoms of asthma can result when the acid forces its way into the airways. Some medications used by asthma patients are known to aggravate the condition.
8. Inflammation of larynx and throat
When the acid moves up and over the esophageal sphincter, it may enter the throat and the voice box. This can result in hoarseness of your voice and sore throat.
9. Infection and inflammation of lungs
The sore liquid that moves upward can enter the lungs too. This can result in choking and coughing. Aspiration or moving up of the liquid into the lungs can occur without showing any symptoms also. This can cause lung infection and eventually pneumonia. This can lead to pulmonary fibrosis or scarring of lungs which is visible via chest x-rays.
10. Fluid accumulation in sinuses and middle ear
The throat and the nasal passage are connected. In children, the adenoids or the two patches of lymph tissue are located in the upper part of the throat where it meets the nasal passages. The liquid can cause swelling of the adenoids and block the passages from sinuses to the Eustachian tubes. This causes fluid accumulation and discomfort in the ears and sinuses. This condition is more common in children.
11. Dental problems
GERD can cause dental erosion which is nothing but the loss of the tooth’s enamel. This is more common in children. Dental enamel is eroded by the acid and prone to cavities.
12. Sleep apnea
A person suffering from GERD, may also have a sleep disorder where the breathing may stop temporarily for a number of times. Though causes of this condition are not clear, the condition is severe in people who have GERD.
Most of the people suffer from acid reflux once in their lifetime. If you are having this problem, you should consult your doctor immediately and take the proper treatment to avoid further complications.