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California, MD
A 28-year-old female asked:

Can acid reflux kill you?

3 doctor answers7 doctors weighed in
Dr. Loki Skylizard
Thoracic Surgery 20 years experience
Sort of: Major concerns are longterm complications. Reflux causes injury over years, potentially leading to cancer. Depending the amount/degree of refluxing, there are certain subgroups that can have more acute injury/complications. Some infants have sids thought to be associated with gerd. Some adults may have significant lung disease and/or infection associated with refluxing. http://goo.gl/0rrqv.
Dr. Wendy Askew
Obstetrics and Gynecology 24 years experience
No but...: Acid reflux can't, but sometimes the symptoms of acid reflux can indicate a more dangerous condition like erosive gastritis or barretts esophagus and these conditions can become fatal if left untreated - in rare instances they could cause a perforation of the esophagus or progress to cancer. If u r worried a gastroenterologist could perform an endoscopy if indicated to look for these conditions.
Dr. Loki Skylizard
Thoracic Surgery 20 years experience
Concur with general answer. Usually, in relation to GERD we are discussing erosive esophagitis as opposed to erosive gastritis. Longer term, we are concerned with stricture, esophageal scarring, Barrett's metaplasia, and esophageal cancer. As noted in earlier answer, certain subsets of population can have acute injury and/or association with death. Premature infants and neurologic impaired infants in particular. There is a significant association of GERD with pediatric asthma. Some elderly may be at risk for aspiration and respiratory complications, including death.
Feb 17, 2013
Dr. Michael Sawyer
General Surgery 36 years experience
No: Acid reflux cannot kill you. The most serious complication is the development of barrett esophagus, or esophageal metaplasia, which can be a precursor to esophageal cancer. This takes many years to develop. If you have concerns and have had reflux symptoms for a while, consult with your doctor about having an upper endoscopy (egd).

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Last updated Jul 8, 2020

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