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Stomach, Oesophagus,
GORD
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Conditions - Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)

GORD is a chronic condition that occurs when gastric fluid is able to reflux into the oesophagus. This gastric content is typically acid and therefore causes irritation in the lower esophagus. There is a complex anatomic and muscular complex called the lower esophageal sphincter which is the mechanism that should prevent this reflux of gastric content but which is deficient in some people. Anyone including infants, children and pregnant women can suffer from GORD.

Symptoms

The classical symptoms of GORD are heartburn, volume reflux and dysphagia. Heartburn is a burning sensation behind the sternum that occurs when acid irritates the lining of the esophagus. Occasional heartburn is common but pathological heartburn can lead to more serious health problems. Volume reflux occurs when there is passive reflux of fluid into the upper oesophagus or even the mouth. Dysphagia is difficulty in swallowing secondary to inflammation of the esophagus or dysmotility of the esophagus. Dysphagia can occasionally be caused by a mechanical reason such as a tumour of the esophagus and should never be ignored.

Some patients will have GORD without these typical symptoms. Instead they may experience chest pain, wheezing at night, a hoarse voice in the morning, a chronic cough or bad breath. These are common symptoms and do not always represent pathological GORD. Careful consultation and occasionally diagnostic tests are required to make an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Common contributing factors to GORD
- Hiatus hernia (this is when part of the stomach is above the diaphragm)
- Alcohol use
- Obesity
- Smoking
- Pregnancy
- Reflux will be more common with certain foods

Diagnosis

Accurate diagnosis depends on careful history taking. Endoscopy will always be performed to try and confirm the diagnosis and occasionally other tests like pH testing in the esophagus and manometry of the esophagus will be required.

For more information on Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disease treatment offered by Dr. Robert Finch click here.

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