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GORD stands for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, a common condition where acid from the stomach leaks up into the throat. There are a range of treatments for GORD we can offer.
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Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (otherwise known as GORD) is a condition consisting of recurring episodes of heartburn and acid reflux. Heartburn is an uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest, usually after you’ve eaten. Acid reflux is a burning in your throat caused by stomach acid.
Almost everyone will experience heartburn and acid reflux in their lives. But there are some factors that can make people more likely to develop GORD. These include:
GORD is quite common. A study by the US National Library of Medicine found that up to 20% of the entire Western population have it . If you have GORD, the bright side is that there’s a range of treatments and lots of people in the same boat as you.
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GORD is usually caused by the ring of muscle at the bottom of the oesophagus (known as the lower oesophageal sphincter) becoming weaker. The oesophagus connects your mouth to your stomach, and this ring of muscle opens and closes to let food in.
If the muscle becomes weaker, it can’t always close as it’s supposed to, and it isn’t able to stop your stomach acid from leaking up your throat. This causes the symptoms of GORD, like heartburn and acid reflux.
The main symptoms of GORD are heartburn and acid reflux. These cause burning in the chest and throat, often after eating. Sometimes acid reflux comes with a sour taste in the mouth.
There are other symptoms which may appear. These can include oesophagitis, meaning a sore and swollen oesophagus. GORD can also appear with:
Usually, GORD causes mild but uncomfortable symptoms. But if GORD is quite severe and untreated for a long period of time, it can cause some complications. These include:
Stomach acid in the throat can eventually begin to damage the lining of the oesophagus, leading to ulcers. Ulcers may bleed, cause pain and make it hard to swallow. A lot of medication used to treat GORD can also treat or reduce the risk of ulcers.
Scarred and narrow oesophagus
Sometimes damage caused by stomach acid causes scarring and narrowing of the throat. This is also known as oesophageal stricture and can make it incredibly difficult and painful to swallow. There is a procedure that widens the oesophagus, often by using a small balloon.
Repeated episodes of GORD can sometimes lead to a change in cells that line the lower oesophagus. This is known as Barrett’s oesophagus. About 6% of people with chronic GORD end up developing Barrett’s oesophagus.
There usually aren’t any noticeable symptoms with Barrett’s oesophagus. Very rarely, it can be associated with oesophageal cancer. A clinician may suggest having an endoscopy every few years to keep an eye on this.
It’s very rare to develop oesophageal cancer even if you have Barrett’s oesophagus. But having Barrett’s oesophagus does make you ten times more likely to develop oesophageal cancer.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should speak to a clinician. The best thing you can do for your health is to treat your GORD early.
There are lots of different medications to treat GORD. They come in different forms, like tablets, granules and syrups. Usually, they work by reducing the amount of acid in your stomach. This lessens the symptoms of GORD and protects your throat from damage.
There isn’t a ‘best’ treatment as such for GORD. It depends on your symptoms and preferences for medication. If you struggle with taking tablets then treatment in the form of granules or syrup may be better options for you. If you have worse symptoms, you may need to take more medication, or combine it with lifestyle changes. It just varies from person to person.
GORD doesn’t always require medication. Symptoms caused by GORD can often be reduced with healthy lifestyle changes and avoiding triggers. These might include:
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