What is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease?

Reflux occurs when stomach acid flows into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (oesophagus). Heartburn is something that everyone experiences occasionally. However, when it occurs regularly and for more than a couple of hours, this condition is called gastroesophageal acid reflux disease (GERD). GERD may lead to serious complications in some cases.

The lower esophageal sphincter, a band of muscles at the bottom of your throat called the lower esophageal sphincter helps to prevent reflux. It tightens to allow food to pass through into your stomach while relaxing to allow pepsin and acid to digest the meal. When the LES relaxes or weakens, it allows stomach acid to flow back into your oesophagus. Heartburn is the result of this.

Many conditions can lead to reflux. These include pregnancy, eating certain foods or beverages, smoking, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or coffee and taking certain medications such as aspirin, blood pressure medicine, and narcotics. A large stomach can add pressure to the abdomen and cause reflux.
Acid reflux can cause esophagitis, a painful condition that damages the lining of your stomach. Acid reflux can also cause irritation of the throat and vocal cords, leading to a hoarse or sore voice. Over time, if the oesophagus’ lining is damaged, it can cause a narrowing, or stricture. Acid can also cause tooth decay by eating away at teeth. If the acid gets into your mouth, it can cause irritation to the lungs, making breathing difficult. It may also lead to pneumonia and a lung disease called idiopathic respiratory fibrosis.

Heartburn can be a sign of reflux. It may last for a few days and cause a burning sensation in the chest or throat. You may also experience a bitter, sour or metallic taste in your mouth and throat. Regurgitation, or spitting up liquids and food from your stomach in your mouth and throat, is another symptom. Infants with reflux may have difficulty feeding, vomit more often, or not gain weight.

GERD can be reduced or eliminated by lifestyle changes. Avoid fatty foods and eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake, and stop smoking. If you’re overweight, lose excess weight. Elevating the head of your mattress a few inches can prevent stomach acid from flowing into your oesophagus. If lifestyle changes do not relieve GERD symptoms, surgery may be needed to correct the problem. There are several types of surgery, including fundoplication, and a procedure known as the LINX System. This involves placing a ring made of magnetic titanium beads on the outside of the stomach. The LINX device remains closed when at rest in order to prevent reflux. However, it opens up with normal swallowing so that food and liquid can pass into your stomach. Usually, these procedures are reserved for patients that don’t respond well to other treatments. Children are not recommended to undergo these procedures.

If you would like to speak with a Doctor who is an expert in the field or has Australian training, please contact us. Book an online Telehealth consultation. We are always here for you, 24/7. Contact info@clinicall.com.au.