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Acid Reflux: Complications

Mar 26, 2008
Those who suffer from Acid Reflux disease should be aware that it could be a sign that there is another issue brewing- one that could even be life threatening.

A lifetime of acidic fluid swishing up into the Esophagus, scarring and burning the walls; more and more food going down this path, tangling with the ulcerated surface, the subsequent laxness in the movement of the Esophageal contractions as it moves the food downward towards the stomach - all these factors contribute to some serious afflictions.

Infants and children who have Acid reflux may not vomit, but may still have stomach contents that move up the food pipe and spill over into the windpipe and affect the lungs. Asthma, pneumonia, and even SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) can happen. Infants and children with reflux who vomit frequently may display unsatisfactory growth.

When stomach fluids reflux into the esophagus, it damages the lining. When this occurs, the body will react with inflammation in what is called Erosive Esophagitis.

When ulcers and the additional inflammation are present, it can lead to bleeding into the esophagus. In severe cases, the bleeding can lead to such things as severe anemia, requiring blood transfusions, and treatments by surgery or endoscope.

Because of the scar tissue and ulceration, there is a narrowing of the food pipe. This prevents the easy passage of food, makes swallowing difficult, and can also cause breathing problems- like shortness of breath and wheezing.

After being subjected to gastric acid reflux for such a long time, the cells in the lining of the esophageal wall can change. The cells in the walls can become pre-cancerous, then later cancerous. This condition (Barrett's esophagus) occurs in roughly 10% of all acid reflux patients. There are more and more people being diagnosed with Barrett's esophagus today.

Finally, there are a bunch of nerves in the lower part of the Esophagus, which get disturbed by the Acid Reflux flushing back. This sometimes result in a pain we call heartburn; other times, these nerves transmit the disturbance to some other nerves, that cause constriction of the lung airways, and cough, causing the patient to get breathless.
About the Author
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