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Is GERD Dangerous?

chili pepper with flame on stemThe answer to the question "Is GERD dangerous?" depends on the circumstances.

The occasional episode of mild discomfort and "heartburn" occurring very infrequently and responding to a simple and acid or over-the-counter remedy isn't likely to cause any serious problem.

Chronic severe GERD (or acid reflux) is another matter altogether.

As a quick reminder, GERD stands for "Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease". It is also referred to as acid reflux because the symptoms are caused by acid reflux and, that is backing up, from the stomach into the esophagus. The acid is in fact burning the lining of the esophagus much like spilling acid on your skin would burn. That obviously is not a good thing.


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If this burning happens repeatedly, chronically over a long period of time the damage becomes progressively severe.

The burned esophagus may bleed enough to cause significant blood loss and anemia.

Recurrent injury can cause esophagus to scar down leading to difficulty swallowing or even a blockage.

More ominously, the chronic irritation and injury can cause changes in the cells lining the esophagus. Initially doctors can recognize a condition called Barrett's esophagus which is important because a high percentage of people with Barrett's esophagus are at risk for developing esophageal cancer.


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Esophageal cancer is one of the more serious forms of cancer with frequently poor results even with appropriate treatment.

Finally, GERD is dangerous if somebody assumes their symptoms are due to acid reflux when in fact there due to heart disease or another serious problem and they don't have it evaluated. You see, many different problems can cause similar symptoms that require testing and evaluation by a physician to sort out.

So the final answer to the question "Is GERD dangerous?" is that it can be if symptoms are ignored or not properly evaluated over a long period of time.

Don't let that happen to you. If you having ongoing problems get evaluation sooner rather than later.

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