What is GORD?
Gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR) means the backflow (reflux) of acidic stomach contents into the oesophagus (food pipe), which irritates the oesophagus, causing symptoms such as heartburn. Reflux is common – about 15 to 20 per cent of Australian adults have heartburn at least once a week and 5 per cent at least daily.
The term ‘gastro-oesophageal reflux disease’ (GORD) is used when you have frequent or severe reflux symptoms – symptoms that happen twice or more each week or symptoms that are bad enough that they significantly impact your life. If you have complications of reflux (see below), you are also considered to have GORD.
As well as relieving symptoms, treatment for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is aimed at preventing and treating complications (such as ulceration and scarring of the oesophagus).
There are some simple measures you can take to help relieve reflux symptoms. Anything that makes your symptoms worse, such as alcohol, smoking, coffee, spicy or fatty foods, or eating large meals, should be avoided.
If you are overweight, losing weight can help. Some people also find raising the head of the bed helpful.
As some medicines such as aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may make symptoms worse, you should discuss any medicines you are taking with your doctor.
For occasional, mild symptoms, antacids or other over-the-counter medicines may help. For more severe or regular symptoms, stronger medicines can be prescribed. These treatments are more effective in both relieving the symptoms and healing inflammation of the oesophagus.
If the response to medication is not satisfactory, surgery may be considered.