It’s normal to suffer from heartburn on an occasional basis. However, if you experience frequent heartburn, you could have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition characterized by the persistent back flow of stomach acid and food up the esophagus. Millions of individuals suffer from chronic GERD and far too many of them dismiss the symptoms as minor annoyances. In fact, if you fail to seek treatment at your local hospital for GERD symptoms, you could increase your risk of serious complications.
Receiving treatment for GERD at your community hospital may lower your risk of developing esophagitis. This condition involves inflammation, irritation, and swelling of the esophagus. Esophagitis can involve symptoms such as painful or difficult swallowing, food impaction, and chest pain. If left untreated, esophagitis can lead to further complications, such as the formation of scar tissue and stricture.
If a physician at your local hospital diagnoses you with esophageal stricture, it means that scar tissue has narrowed the esophagus , causing problems with swallowing. Esophageal stricture is also characterized by painful swallowing, food regurgitation, and unintentional weight loss.
Untreated GERD is not likely to lead to esophageal cancer right away. However, if you’ve experienced symptoms for years and still haven’t visited a physician at your local hospital, you could be at a higher risk of this type of cancer. Some possible signs of esophageal cancer could include unintentional weight loss, problems swallowing, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
Sometimes, stomach acid that is regurgitated can be inhaled. When this occurs, it can aggravate a pre-existing condition such as asthma or pneumonia. Even patients who do not have these medical conditions may experience pulmonary distress, such as difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.
Residents of the West Hills area can find the comprehensive healthcare services they need at West Hills Hospital. Our hospital features advanced medical technology throughout our departments, including our Cancer Care department and Burn Center. For more helpful health information, you can explore our website or contact our Consult-A-Nurse referral line at (818) 676-4000.