eli5: Does Gerd destroy the lungs?


**I cant breath properly, does it create a permanent damage to the lungs? It is low acid, does it dissolve the heart and the lungs since it came from the stomach?**

In: Biology

It can if it finds a way into your lungs. Such as while laying down, sleeping, etc…

Potentially it could dissolve your organs, however, you’ll feel massive amounts of pain before that happens.

I am a doctor and one of my specialties happens to be the lungs 🙂 so hopefully I can help!

GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, aka chronic acid reflux, heartburn) doesn’t “destroy” the lungs in the dramatic sense, but can cause serious damage ***over time*** if the acid reflux is severe enough that it repeatedly comes up the esophagus and spills back into the trachea and then down into the lungs themselves.

I have seen a variety of damage from this which can range from: very *mild* (evidence of inflammation only seen on imaging such as CT scan) to *mild* (pesky chronic cough), to *moderate and severe* (frequent coughing, difficulty breathing, and significant abnormalities on imaging). I have even seen *very severe* where major structures of the lungs are severely damaged or scarred, and someone needs extra oxygen to breathe comfortably.

It generally takes a long time of severe, untreated GERD for it to start seriously impacting your lungs — and the first sign of a problem *usually* begins with more frequent need to “clear your throat”, voice changes (hoarseness), and intermittent dry coughing because the acid irritates your vocal cords and upper windpipe (trachea) first, before it eventually affects the lungs themselves. However, some people do not even realize this is happening unfortunately, or do not feel symptoms of reflux, and thus it goes untreated. Depending on the extent of damage, it can sometimes be reversed if the reflux to the lungs stops (inflammation can be reversed but scarring and structural damage usually does not reverse).

Anatomically, acid reflux should not be able to affect the heart at all because there is no connection from stomach acid that can reach the heart.

GERD is relatively easy to treat with medication that your doctor can prescribe or that you buy over the counter at a local pharmacy. It is always important to get checked out if you have GERD symptoms consistently for longer than a few weeks/1 month time because it *may* be a sign of a more serious issue that needs to be addressed.

Hope this helps!