Reflux of stomach contents can cause inflammation and sores in the base of the esophagus known as esophagitis. These erosions can be painful and irritative. They can also lead to scarring and narrowing of the esophagus. If this occurs, patients can experience difficulty swallowing — known as dysphagia. Dysphagia tends to start with meats and solid foods but can progress to pain and difficulty swallowing liquids.
Your doctor can dilate the esophagus to open the narrowing, but it will likely return unless your reflux is fixed. Erosions and inflammation of the esophagus can also lead to cellular changes as the esophagus tries to protect itself from stomach contents. Unfortunately, these cellular changes can be pre-cancerous and can lead to esophageal adenocarcinoma. Esophageal adenocarcinoma is one of the only cancers on the rise in the United States and the sixth leading cause of cancer related death.