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Can Acid Reflux Cause Ulcers?

Can Acid Reflux Cause Ulcers?


Acid reflux CAN cause ulcers.

More Info: If acid reflux is caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic form of acid reflux, it can have serious complications if not managed properly.  GERD can cause irritation and inflammation to the lining of the esophagus, a condition known as esophagitis.  Esophagitis can further develop into in peptic esophageal erosion and ulcers, peptic esophageal stricture, and Barrett’s esophagus. [@]

What Is Esophagitis?

Esophagitis is a general term for irritation, inflammation, or swelling of the esophagus, the muscular tube leading from the back of the mouth to the stomach.  Esophagitis occurs when the tissues of the esophagus become damaged, which can be caused by acids regurgitating from the stomach (as with acid reflux), oral medications, allergies, and infection. [#]

Peptic Esophageal Erosion and Ulcers

Esophagitis can develop into peptic esophageal erosion and ulcers in severe cases of GERD.  When the lower esophageal sphincter does not close correctly and chronically introduces stomach acids to the esophagus, they can wear away the lining so severely as to wear it away completely creating ulcerations that are called peptic ulcers. [$]

Peptic Esophageal Stricture

If the damage to the esophagus from GERD persists, it can result in a peptic esophageal stricture, which is the scarring and narrowing of the lumen (inside space) of the esophagus.  Dysphagia, difficulty swallowing food, and regurgitation are common symptoms.  Peptic esophageal stricture affects one to five percent of those who suffer from esophagitis. [%]

Barrett’s Esophagus

Barrett’s esophagus occurs when the tissue lining the esophagus is replaced by tissue that is similar to the intestinal lining.  This is called intestinal metaplasia.  The condition itself does not have any symptoms but increases the risk for esophageal adenocarcinoma, a rare type of cancer. Five to ten percent of people with GERD may develop Barrett’s esophagus. [^]

Treatment of Esophagitis and Its Complications

Proper management of GERD is the primary treatment for Esophagitis before any serious damage can occur.  Doctors recommend some methods for treating GERD including lifestyle changes, medications, and anti-reflux surgery.  Lifestyle changes may include quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding foods that trigger acid reflux.  Medications may include antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and H-2 receptor blockers.  Surgery may be required to correct the problem.  Called fundoplication surgery, the procedure strengthens the lower esophageal sphincter, which prohibits acids from flowing into the esophagus. [&]



[@] American Journal of the Medical Sciences
Clinical manifestations and esophageal complications of GERD
2003; Volume: 326; No: 5; Pages: 279-284

[!] University of Maryland Medical Center

[#] Mayo Clinic

[$] WebMD
GERD: Esophageal Erosion and Ulcers

[%] Memorial Hermann
Peptic Esophageal Stricture

[^] National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing House
Barrett’s Esophagus

[&] WebMD
Fundoplication Surgery for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

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