While you may not need to be concerned about the occasional bout of heartburn, if it occurs frequently, you need to visit your physician. Heartburn, or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, otherwise known as GORD, can develop into serious problems. If you experience a burning sensation in your chest after eating or have an unpleasant taste in your mouth, especially after burping, and these symptoms appear twice a week for a prolonged period of time, then you should contact your physician.

Complications Associated with GORD

There are many problems that can develop if you leave GORD untreated, including the development of oesophageal cancer. Here are some of the more common complications associated with GORD:

Oesophagitis

This complication occurs when stomach acid, food and digestive juices back up into the oesophagus. The oesophagus is a long muscle connecting the throat to the stomach. When everything backs up into the oesophagus, over time it can cause swelling, irritation and scarring if left untreated.

Oesophageal Stricture

When oesophagitis goes untreated for too long, the scarring it causes can lead to the formation of a stricture. A stricture means the oesophagus has narrowed, which can make it difficult to swallow food and liquids. The oesophagus will need to be stretched in order to repair the stricture and, as this treatment may need to be repeated, you may be prescribed an acid blocking medication to help prevent the reoccurrence of the stricture.

Lung Problems

GORD can lead to issues with breathing, including shortness of breath, and it can easily develop into asthma or pneumonia if regurgitated stomach acids are accidentally inhaled. Treating GORD with certain medications can also increase the risk of pneumonia because, according to some researchers, they can suppress coughing and may promote bacterial growth. If you are being treated for GORD, your physician may also keep a watchful eye on your lung function.

Oesophageal Ulcers

If you start spitting up or vomiting blood, you will need to see your doctor right away, because that could indicate the development of oesophageal ulcers. These ulcers form when the lining of the oesophagus has been eroded by stomach acids. An endoscopy will usually be done to check for ulcers and you may be prescribed acid-reducing medications, like http://www.zantac.com.au, to help treat them.

Oesophageal Cancer

One of the more serious complications of GORD is the development of cancer in the oesophagus. Symptoms can include weight loss, problems with swallowing and gastrointestinal bleeding. It takes many years to develop oesophageal cancer, but if you have had heartburn or GORD for many years, it is something your doctor may test for if you have had these symptoms.

People who are more likely to develop complications with GORD are people who are generally overweight, who eat a diet high in fatty foods or women who are pregnant. You can reduce your risk of developing GORD, as well as any of these complications, by changing your diet and eating healthier foods, as well as losing weight. Taking antacids can help reduce complications as well.