An individual affected by gastroesophageal reflux disease may develop an esophageal stricture when it is left untreated. A GERD patient experiences problems with the functionality of the flap of tissue referred to as the lower esophageal sphincter. The lower esophageal sphincter is responsible for keeping the contents of the stomach from moving back up into the esophagus. The esophageal lining does not have the same protective mucous layer the stomach tissues have, leaving these tissues more vulnerable to cellular damage when coming in contact with stomach acid. When the tissues of the esophagus become damaged, the patient's body repairs them with scar tissue, which is not as flexible as the tissue it is replacing in the esophagus and does not perform the same functions. This scar tissue can accumulate in the esophagus as more damage occurs over time. This buildup of scar tissue causes an esophageal stricture, a narrow spot in the patient's esophagus that causes problems with their ability to swallow.
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