Find out what happens if you ignore your GERD symptoms.
Have you been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)? Do you deal with acid reflux two or more times a week but haven’t seen a doctor? Leaving GERD untreated can lead to chronic inflammation of the lining of the esophagus, which can alter the esophageal lining over time. These changes in the lining of the esophagus can progress into a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. It’s important that you turn to our Lima, OH, gastroenterologists early on before GERD has a chance to progress into this disorder.
What is Barrett’s esophagus?
When acid and bile from the stomach travel back up through the esophagus, it irritates the lining. Over time, if acid reflux isn’t properly controlled, this constant exposure of acid and bile can cause the lining of the esophagus to turn red, resembling the intestinal lining rather than the standard mucosal lining. While intestinal lining is certainly more durable it is also more likely to deal with cellular changes that could increase the risk for esophageal cancer.
What are the signs and symptoms of GERD?
It’s important to recognize the symptoms of GERD so you know when it’s time to turn to our Lima, OH, gastroenterologist for an evaluation. By treating GERD through medications and lifestyle changes we may be able to prevent Barrett’s esophagus from developing over time. Warning signs of GERD include,
- Acid reflux
- Trouble swallowing
- Persistent or recurring sore throat
- Chronic cough
How is Barrett’s esophagus treated?
If you have had GERD for more than five years you must turn to our gastroenterologists every 3-5 years for Barrett’s esophagus screenings. The type of treatment options available to you will depend on your overall health, your age, the severity of your symptoms and whether or not you have dysplasia (abnormal cells). Medications such as proton pump inhibitors are commonly prescribed to prevent further damage to the lining of the esophagus.
If dysplasia is present, an endoscopic ablative therapy such as radiofrequency ablation or photodynamic therapy will be performed to kill the abnormal cells. Surgery or an endoscopic mucosal resection may also be necessary to remove affected areas of esophageal tissue.
If you are dealing with acid reflux regularly it’s important that you turn to our Lima, OH, gastroenterologist for answers. Call Gastrointestinal Associates at (419) 227-8209 to schedule an evaluation with our team of experts.