When Heartburn Gets Serious

0
108

Ignoring acid reflux can cause scarring and narrowing in the esophagus, which can also lead to swallowing difficulties, Radhika Srinivasan, MD, a gastrointestinal specialist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, tells WebMD.

This condition, called esophageal strictures, can interfere with eating and drinking by preventing food and liquid from reaching the Barrett’s esophagus,” she adds. Barrett’s esophagus is a result of the chronic acid reflux into the esophagus (swallowing tube) causing dangerous changes in the cells that line the esophagus — these cells can become cancerous.

The odds: If 100 people have medications that block acid production like Aciphex, Nexium, Protonix, Prevacid, and Prilosec. If these medications do not limit reflux,heartburn symptoms have become more severe or frequent.

  • You are having difficulty swallowing or have pain when swallowing, especially with solid foods or pills.
  • Your heartburn is causing you to vomit.
  • You’ve experienced a drastic weight loss.
  • You have been using over-the-counter antacid medications for more than two weeks (or for a longer period than recommended on the label), and you still have heartburn symptoms.
  • You have heartburn symptoms even after taking prescription or non-prescription medications.
  • You have severe hoarseness or wheezing.
  • Your discomfort interferes with your lifestyle or daily activities.
  • If you are concerned, discuss it with your primary doctor who can decide whether you need to see a specialist, Srinivasan says.

    And for more about heartburn, visit our guide to Heartburn, created in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic.