Gord is caused
by acid contents of the stomach moving back up the oesophagus. Increased acid production in the
stomach and structural problems that allow acid reflux can precipitate the
The following common factors may contribute to reflux:
- Overeating. The more
the stomach is stretched by food, the higher the tendency to reflux.
- Fatty meals also
increase this tendency, because fat delays the emptying of the stomach and
causes the oesophageal sphincter to relax, letting acid reflux into the
- Smoking increases
stomach acidity and can also cause the oesophageal sphincter to relax.
- Pregnancy increases
pressure in the stomach and may cause reflux.
- Obesitycan also increase pressure in the abdomen, causing
- Over-the-counter medications may lead to heartburn.
- Some foods
and beverages stimulate stomach acid secretion, which can lead to
Read: What is GORD?Diseases of the oesophagus
The following are examples of irritants that may cause heartburn:
– Acidic foods, e.g. tomatoes
– Ibuprofen and aspirin
– Acidic fruit juices, especially citrus
– Fizzy drinks
Diseases of the oesophagus can also cause heartburn. Examples of such diseases are scleroderma and sarcoidosis.
Read: Is my heartburn actually GORD?
Hiatus hernia is a common cause of heartburn.
There is a slit-like opening in the diaphragm through which the oesophagus passes. A hiatal hernia occurs when a section of the upper stomach moves through this opening in the diaphragm upwards into the chest, preventing the muscle fibres of the diaphragm from closing the lower end of the oesophagus.
The oesophagus remains open, allowing stomach acid to enter. Hiatus hernias commonly occur in people over 50.
What are the symptoms of GORD?
GORD – what can go wrong?
What is the difference between GORD and heartburn?
Previously reviewed by Dr Ganief Adams, Gastroenterologist, MBChB (UCT), FCP (SA)
Reviewed by Dr Jenny Edge, General Surgeon, BSc, MB BS, FRCS (Edin), M Med (Stell.)