What is reflux disease?

Millions of people worldwide are suffering due to Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disease. Abbreviated to GORD in the UK, or sometimes GERD in America, Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disease is a defined as ‘a condition which develops when the reflux of stomach contents causes troublesome symptoms and/or complications’.

Contrary to popular belief, GORD is not caused by too much acid, but rather by a failure of a valve that normally prevents the stomach acid from refluxing up into the oesophagus. The stomach has mechanisms to protect it from these highly corrosive substances, but, when these gastric juices enter the oesophagus it can cause burning and pain and may even cause injury to the oesophageal lining. If the stomach juice travels further up the oesophagus it can reach the throat or mouth, and enter the larynx or even the lungs.

In the short term, reflux leads to a wide range of symptoms, which may be intestinal, respiratory, laryngo-pharyngeal (LPR) or oral. In time, prolonged oesophageal exposure to gastric contents can cause complications such as narrowing, Barrett’s Oesophagus and even cancer.

The quality of life of patients suffering from GORD can be affected just as much as patients with more recognisable serious diseases such as heart failure, and diabetes. Sufferers of the condition may be able to reduce symptoms using antacid medication, but this will not cure the disease.