Complications of GORD

A number of possible complications can occur as a result of having gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) for a long time.

Oesophageal ulcers

Thestomach acid that leaks into the oesophagus in people with GORD can damage the lining ofthe oesophagus (oesophagitis), which can cause ulcers to form.

These ulcers can bleed, causing pain and making it difficult to swallow.

Medications used to treat GORD, such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), can help ulcers heal by reducing the amount of acid that leaks into the oesophagus. This is known as Barrett's oesophagus.

It's estimated that about 1 in every 10 people with GORD will develop Barrett's oesophagus, usuallyafter many years.

Barrett's oesophagus doesn't usually cause noticeable symptoms other than those caused by GORD.

However, there's a small risk that the changed cells could become cancerous in the future (see below). Your doctor may suggest having an endoscopyevery few years to check for this.

Oesophageal cancer

It's estimated that 1 in every 10-20 people withBarrett's oesophagus will develop oesophageal cancerwithin 10-20 years.

Symptoms of oesophageal cancer include:

  • difficulty swallowing
  • unexplained weight loss
  • persistentindigestion
  • hoarseness
  • a persistentcough and/orcoughing blood
  • vomiting

Speak to your doctorif you experience any swallowing difficulties, or any other unusual or persistent symptoms.

Surgery to remove the cancer can be carried out if it'sdiagnosed at an early stage.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016