GERD Home > What Are the Potential Complications of GERD?

Potential Complications of GERD

Several complications can occur if GERD goes untreated. Some of these include:
  • Esophageal ulcers.
  • Esophageal bleeding.
  • Narrowing of the esophagus because of scar tissue (known as an esophageal stricture).
  • Esophageal cancer. About 1 out of 100 people who have severe damage to the lining of their esophagus develop a form of esophageal cancer.
  • Barrett's esophagus. This happens when cells in the esophageal lining take on an abnormal shape and color, which over time can lead to cancer.
In addition, studies have shown that asthma, chronic cough, and pulmonary fibrosis may be aggravated or even caused by GERD.

A Summary

Many people think of heartburn as a normal part of life and suffer for a long time before telling their doctor. However, people who experience heartburn two or more times a week and symptoms that are not relieved by over-the-counter medications may have a more serious disease called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
For many people, GERD can be diagnosed simply by describing their symptoms and medical history to their doctor. Additional tests are not always required.
Most people are able to completely relieve or reduce their symptoms by making changes in their diet and/or lifestyle and taking medications. In rare cases, surgery may be required to reduce the discomfort. If you experience heartburn on a regular basis, please don't hesitate to tell your doctor.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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