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Updated 11 February 2013

Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)

Sometimes, acidic juices from the stomach flow back (“reflux”) into the gullet, or oesophagus. It is called Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD).

Summary

  • Sometimes, acidic juices from the stomach flow back (“reflux”) into the gullet, or oesophagus.
  • If this happens repeatedly, the acid will damage the lining of the gullet. This common condition is called Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD).
  • Lifestyle changes such as giving up smoking, losing weight and modifying your diet usually prevent reflux from occurring.
  • The main symptom of reflux is a painful burning in the chest known as heartburn.
  • f you have severe reflux, your doctor might recommend an investigative procedure called a gastroscopy to rule out more serious conditions. In rare cases, surgery is an option, otherwise medication to suppress stomach acid will be used initially.

Alternative names

Definition

If this happens often enough, the acid can damage the lining of the gullet. This condition is called Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease or GORD. GORD is a very common problem, occurring in people of all ages and both sexes.

Cause

Food

Hiatus hernia

Overweight

Pregnancy

Smoking

Medication

Position of the body

Who gets it and who is at risk?

  • Pregnant women
  • Overweight people
  • Smokers
  • Babies: Babies do not have a fully developed lower oesophageal sphincter that normally helps prevent GORD. This explains their tendency to vomit, which should lessen during the first months, as the anti-reflux mechanisms become stronger.

Symptoms and signs

  • A painful or burning sensation in the upper abdomen or chest, sometimes radiating to the back (heartburn). This usually lasts only a few minutes. Some people describe it as a “must-sit-up” feeling (regurgitation).
  • The acid reflux can reach the pharynx (throat) and mouth. It tastes sour and can burn (waterbrash).
  • A small number of people find it hard to breathe and begin to sound hoarse, because the refluxed fluid irritates the larynx (voice box) and respiratory tract.
  • Excess burping is common.
  • A typical presentations eg. Throat irritation, laryngitis, wheezing, chest pain.

Diagnosis

  • Gallstones: These are best diagnosed with an ultrasound scan.
  • Ulcers: These may occur in the stomach or the duodenum or oesophagus. They may give symptoms similar to GORD. Occasionally, they may rupture or bleed, leading to severe pain. They can be diagnosed by gastroscopy.
  • Heart pain: Angina is pain due to heart strain. It usually comes on while you are exercising. If angina becomes more severe, then the pain can come on at rest as well. If the pain goes down the arm then a doctor should be contacted immediately.
  • Gastritis: Generalised inflammation of the stomach lining may be caused by an aspirin for pain or anti-inflammatory drugs.

Prevention

  • Try to lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Avoid large, high-fat meals, particularly in the evening.
  • Limit the amount of coffee and alcohol you drink.
  • Raise the head of your bed by about 15 cm.

Treatment

When to call the doctor

 
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2019-11-18 06:57
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