Millions of Americans experience periodic heartburn. And while the occasional bout of indigestion is rarely a cause for alarm, regular reflux can lead to a number of potentially dangerous health complications.
If you suffer from heartburn more than twice a week, you may want to consider visiting a gastroenterologist like the ones at La Peer Health Systems’ Reflux Surgery Center of Excellence for testing. Our board-certified surgeons offer a number of treatments and procedures to alleviate reflux and protect your esophageal health. Call (888) 593-1042 today to schedule an appointment.
Complications of Untreated Reflux
Left untreated, acid reflux or GERD can result in several dangerous conditions that affect the health of your digestive system:
- Esophagitis – Overexposure to stomach acid can lead to esophagitis, which is inflammation of the esophagus. Left untreated, esophagitis can cause bleeding and ulcer formation.
- Ulcers – Holes in the protective lining of the intestine, stomach, or esophagus; ulcers can result from the buildup of stomach acids. While ulcers may just be a painful annoyance, they can also lead to bleeding and even stomach cancer. As a result, people with ulcers should see a gastroenterologist regularly to monitor their condition.
- Barrett’s esophagus – Although GERD does not always turn into Barrett’s esophagus, acid reflux is a major risk factor for Barrett’s disease. Barrett’s esophagus occurs when the esophagus is repeatedly exposed to stomach acid, causing the cells undergo changes. Patients with Barrett’s disease have a greater risk of developing esophageal cancer than the general population. If you are suffering from GERD, it’s crucial that you see a gastroenterologist to monitor your condition for signs of Barrett’s esophagus.
- Esophageal cancer – In rare cases, esophageal cancer can occur when the cells of the esophagus become damaged by stomach acid and undergo changes. People with Barrett’s disease should undergo regular testing to check for cancer of the esophagus.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: If I have GERD, will I definitely develop Barrett’s disease?
A: No! Not everyone with GERD goes on to develop Barrett’s esophagus. However, treating reflux early is important to protecting your digestive health and preventing diseases like Barrett’s esophagus.
Q: Does everyone with Barrett’s disease go on to develop esophageal cancer?
A: Only a small percentage of Barrett’s sufferers go on to develop cancer of the esophagus. Furthermore, the doctors at La Peer’s Barrett’s Center of Excellence offer treatments like radiofrequency ablation therapy to help prevent the formation of cancer by removing precancerous cells.
Q: When should I see a doctor about my reflux?
A: Visit a gastroenterologist if you’re experiencing heartburn or reflux more than twice a week.
Q: How do I know if I’m suffering from occasional heartburn or GERD?
A: If you experience heartburn more than twice a week, wake up in the middle of the night with indigestion, or feel that heartburn is interfering with you ability to enjoy life; you may be suffering from GERD. The gastroenterologists at the Reflux Surgery Center utilize ESO pill procedures and upper endoscopies among other tests to diagnose acid reflux in patients.
Contact Los Angeles Gastroenterologists
Untreated reflux can affect your ability to enjoy life and lead to a number of potentially dangerous complications. If you think you may be suffering from GERD or a more serious condition, please don’t hesitate to call (888) 593-1042 and schedule an appointment with one of our Los Angeles gastroenterologists at the newly remodeled Reflux Surgery Center of Excellence.
Next, learn about acid reflux treatments.