Heartburn FAQs (cont.)
What kinds of complications are caused by frequent heartburn?
Excess stomach acid in the esophagus can cause ulcers, damage to the inner layers of the esophageal wall, and narrowing (stricture and swallowing difficulty).
Very rarely, the esophagus may bleed or tear completely because it is so damaged. In severe cases, a person may vomit blood or have small amounts of blood in bowel movements, found only on testing the stool.
Regurgitated stomach acid can damage the respiratory tract, causing asthma, hoarseness, chronic cough, sore throat, or tooth damage (acid destroys the enamel on teeth). A person may feel as if he or she has a lump in the throat.
If the acid exposure continues for long periods of time, the esophagus becomes thick and damaged. A person may then have difficulty swallowing and food becomes stuck.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/2/2014
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