If you choose to do nothing to treat your gastroesophageal reflux disease, you will most likely continue to have uncomfortable heartburn. You may also begin to experience certain symptoms that can be caused by damage to your esophagus. These symptoms include:
* Feeling that food is getting stuck behind the breastbone after you swallow,
* Bleeding in the esophagus,
* A choking feeling,
* Increased coughing,
* Chest pain that may be severe,
* A hoarse voice, and
* Shortness of breath.
These symptoms are common when the esophagus has become inflamed, esophageal ulcers have developed, or the esophagus narrows because of scar tissue formation.
In some cases, such repeated damage may lead to cancer of the esophagus. About 1 out of 100 people who have severe damage to the lining of their esophagus develop a form of esophageal cancer.