A doctor explains why acid reflux can sometimes cause a sensation of food being stuck in your chest.

“Prolonged acid reflux can cause reflux esophagitis,” says Akram Alashari, MD, abdominal surgeon and critical care physician, Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Florida. Esophagitis is inflammation of the esophagus.

“Chronic esophagitis will lead to scar tissue formation in the distal esophagus with stricture formation,” continues Dr. Alashari.

“This stricture, when present, can impede the passage of food through the lower esophageal sphincter and lead to a sensation of food getting stuck in the chest.

“Prolonged reflux esophagitis can lead to Barrett’s esophagus, which is a change in the type of cells lining the distal esophagus to a different type of cells.

“This change in cell type is called metaplasia and is due to the chronic irritation. This metaplastic cell type can then become dysplastic, which means that is has unregulated growth, leading to cancer.

“Barrett’s esophagus is a condition associated with a high rate of esophageal cancer. Cancer of the distal esophagus can cause esophageal obstruction with the feeling of food getting stuck in the chest.”

Esophageal cancer has a poor prognosis because it’s typically caught after it has spread. Here’s an article about a camera in a pill that’s swallowed to view the interior of the esophagus to screen for Barrett’s. Chronic, untreated or poorly treated acid reflux can lead to this condition.