Little Known Complications From Acid Reflux Disease
Unfortunately, acid reflux disease can eventually become a much more serious, potentially life threatening problem if it is allowed to continue untreated.
The long term effects of acid reflux disease can potentially be quite serious. The esophagus can become scarred because highly acidic stomach fluids flush into it and burn its walls. As food continues to be digested it causes further damage to the esophageal walls and contractions by the muscles of the esophagus begin to weaken and slow down.
Even if babies and young children do not vomit despite their suffering from acid reflux disease, the acidic contents of their stomach might still be entering their windpipe, subsequently damaging the lungs. This could potentially lead to pneumonia, asthma, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If a child does vomit as a result of their acid reflux their growth could be stunted.
Erosive Esophagitis is an inflammation of the esophagus that occurs when the cells that line the esophagus are damaged by highly acidic stomach fluids.
Esophageal bleeding, which is sometimes quite severe, can be brought on by inflammation caused by ulcers. If the bleeding becomes too heavy patients may require surgical or endoscopic treatments and blood transfusions to deal with a possible anemic reaction.
Ulcers and scar tissue make the food pipe narrower, making it difficult to swallow, causing wheezing and gasping for breath, and preventing normal digestion of food.
If the esophagus is severely scarred and consistently filled with stomach acids it can eventually cause esophageal cells to become cancerous, a condition called Barrett’s esophagus. Although only ten percent of individuals who suffer from acid reflux disease eventually go on to develop Barrett’s esophagus, this percentage is increasing.
Nerves located in the lower portion of the esophagus can also be affected by acid reflux causing an unpleasant feeling commonly referred to as heartburn. This can also be responsible for cough, a breathless feeling, and airway constriction since pain in the esophageal nerves can be transferred to other nerves.