Knowing the Risks of Untreated Chronic Heartburn
The opening between the bottom of the esophagus and the top of the stomach usually closes after food enters the stomach. However, in some people, this opening fails to close completely. This means that stomach acid can travel upward into the esophagus, resulting in heartburn. If you experience persistent heartburn, you may have a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Patients with GERD can explore their treatment options at a community hospital, such as Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center of Las Vegas. If left untreated, GERD may lead to serious complications.
Esophagitis refers to the inflammation and irritation of the esophagus. Esophagitis may involve symptoms such as chest pain and painful, difficult swallowing. If left untreated, esophagitis can increase the risk of other complications such as esophageal scarring and stricture.
If scar tissue develops in the esophagus, this tube-like structure becomes narrower. This is referred to as esophageal stricture. You may have esophageal stricture if you experience painful swallowing, difficult swallowing, regurgitation of food, or unintentional weight loss.
Having untreated GERD is a significant risk factor of Barrett’s esophagus. This condition is characterized by the replacement of esophageal tissue with tissue that is similar to the cells found in the stomach lining. Many people with Barrett’s esophagus either do not experience any symptoms or they experience the symptoms of GERD . Barrett’s esophagus can increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer.
There are two primary types of esophageal cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the squamous cells of the esophagus and adenocarcinoma develops in the gland cells. Esophageal cancer does not typically cause symptoms right away. As the disease progresses, patients may experience painful or difficult swallowing, chest pain, coughing, hoarseness, and weight loss.
You can attain relief from chronic heartburn by seeking treatment at the Heartburn Center at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center. Our community hospital in Las Vegas provides the latest in GERD treatment such as lifestyle counseling, drug therapy, and minimally invasive surgery—including the latest innovation in GERD treatment, the LINX Reflux Management Device. Contact our Consult-A-Nurse physician referral line at (702) 233-5300 or visit our website to explore our service lines, including heart care, stroke care, and emergency care.