How to know if your GERD has caused permanent damage

Otherwise known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux can be both an acute and a chronic problem. The condition occurs when stomach acid flows from the stomach to the esophagus – which connects the organ to the throat. For most people, this will happen occasionally, but long-term, untreated chronic GERD can lead to permanent damage.

How do you know if acid reflux has caused permanent damage?

The burning sensation caused by stomach acid occurs when it covers and inflames the walls of the esophagus.

Usually it appears after eating, and the severity depends on how much acid comes back and how high it is.

People will experience one – or more – of the five symptoms.

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Potential complications of GERD include:

  • Barrett’s esophagus
  • Erosive esophagitis
  • A narrowing of the esophagus (called esophageal stenosis)
  • Dental disease
  • asthma flare-ups

Barrett’s esophagus

According to Harvard Health, Barrett’s esophagus is one of the most concerning conditions related to GERD and can progress to esophageal cancer.

Symptoms include:

  • Frequent heartburn
  • Regurgitation of ingested food or stomach acid
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pain (less common)


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Erosive esophagitis

Erosive esophagitis is formed when the lining of the esophagus becomes swollen, inflamed, or irritated.

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Feel a lump in your throat
  • Esophageal burn
  • Bleeding in vomit or stool (may turn black and tarry)

Esophageal stenosis

Esophageal strictures develop when GERD causes the throat to tighten, restricting or blocking food.

Many of the symptoms are similar to Barrett’s and include burning neck or throat, difficulty swallowing, and a feeling of stuck food.

The stricture can also prevent food from going down the esophagus and cause choking.

Dental disease

Teeth are a common victim of GERD, thanks to the power of stomach acid.

People who have persistent stomach acid may find that their teeth are much more prone to wear and tear.

Studies have also shown a loose link between GERD and chronic periodontitis, suggesting that it could result from dental problems as well.

asthma flare-ups

Although GERD originates from the stomach and passes through the throat, it can also affect the lungs.

Stomach acid can also damage the airways that line the lungs, causing a persistent cough and breathing problems.

Asthma can also trigger GERD by changing the pressure around the chest and abdomen.

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