(HealthDay News) -- Gastroesophogeal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when a valve in the esophagus opens spontaneously, and stomach contents rise up into the esophagus. It can be controlled with a doctor's treatment plan, which is likely to include medication.
Serious complications can result if the condition is left untreated. Here's a partial list, courtesy of the U.S. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse:
- Ulcers of the esophagus from lining damaged by stomach acid.
- Narrowing of the esophagus, which can make it difficult to swallow.
- A condition called Barrett's esophagus, in which cells in the esophageal lining take on an unusual shape and color.
- Esophageal cancer.
- Exacerbated symptoms of other conditions, including asthma, chronic cough or pulmonary fibrosis.