When Is Acid Reflux Dangerous Complications To Look Out For

By Kathryn Whittaker

It would be next to impossible to find anyone that has not had to deal with heartburn and the resulting pain at least once in their lifetime. For most people, this is something that happens on occasion, usually as a result of something we’ve eaten, and is not really anything to worry about. However, people who experience heartburn more than twice a week are diagnosed with GERD. This is when things might get serious. When is acid reflux dangerous? It becomes a problem when it is diagnosed as chronic, and nothing is done to reverse the damage and control acid production.

Heartburn can be just an occasional problem however, those who have pain constantly might be in more danger than they think they are at the time. The pain associated with this condition is due to acid leaking from the stomach and up into the esophagus. When that happens on a regular basis, the acid starts to corrode the soft tissues in the esophagus that are not meant to deal with that sort of invasion. Damage that is left unchecked and untreated can lead to some very serious complications over the course of a lifetime.

So, what are the common complications? When acid from the stomach is in contact with the tissues of the esophagus, damage will start to appear. This is called erosive esophagitis. These esophageal tissues are not built to deal with acid, and the damage can add up quickly. If left untreated, this can result in something called Barrett’s esophagus and also esophageal cancer.


Esophageal cancer is much like it sounds. This is cancer that happens in the esophagus. This type of cancer is hard to treat, and can often be fatal. There are other risk factors for this type of cancer as well, and those include smoking, drinking, and getting older. It is generally diagnosed in people over the age of 70 years. There are two types of cancer that effect the esophagus. Squamous cell carcinoma, which is cancer found in the upper and middle sections of the esophagus, and Adenocarcinoma, which is in the esophagus near the stomach.

Barrett’s Esophagus often occurs after someone has developed esophagitis. This is when the cells of the esophagus change abnormally. The cells change to fight off the invasion of acid in the area, and they start to resemble the cells found in the intestines. This condition can be diagnosed with an upper GI endoscopy, biopsy, and by symptoms. Treatment is limited and can involve the removal of the esophagus, which is usually only reserved for cancer patients. Barrett’s is sometimes a precursor to esophageal cancer. Each year about 0.5% of those with Barrett’s will go on to develop esophageal cancer.

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There are other times to ask when is acid reflux dangerous. Though cancer and Barrett’s are often the most common problems that can arise, there are other complications that might happen. Some develop esophageal strictures. This is when the esophagus will slowly become smaller due to the build up of scar tissue and can result in difficulty swallowing. Cancer of the larynx is also a problem for some acid reflux sufferers. This is otherwise known as laryngeal cancer. Anyone with GERD that leaves it untreated is at risk for all of these conditions. This is why it is important to talk with a doctor about proper treatment. GERD can be managed, but it can also be dangerous. The best way to fight these conditions is through prevention.

About the Author: By Kathryn Whittaker. Sign up for a free newsletter that has proven methods for tackling Acid Reflux, Heartburn and GERD head-on and discover more about

When is Acid Reflux Dangerous




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