Dubai General Medicine Clinic
What is gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)?
GORD is the condition that describes the reflux of acid from the stomach up into the gullet (oesophagus). There is a sphincter muscle at the junction between the stomach and oesophagus. This muscle acts like a valve and allows food to pass down into the stomach; under normal circumstances, it constricts and prevents food and acid leaking back up (refluxing) into the oesophagus. Reflux occurs when the sphincter fails to function properly.
What is oesophagitis?
Oesophagitis is inflammation inside the wall of the oesophagus, which is most likely caused by irritation of acid from the stomach into the oesophagus.
What are the causes of reflux?
Often we do not know why the sphincter fails to prevent reflux, although sometimes the pressure in the stomach rises to a level that the sphincter cannot cope with, such as in pregnancy bending forward for a long period, especially after a heavy meal. A well-known cause is a hiatus hernia, where part of the stomach slips up into the oesophagus. People with a hiatus hernia are most likely to develop reflux. Aggravating factors include smoking, obesity, heavy drinking, and increasing age.
What are the symptoms of reflux and oesophagitis?
The diagnosis may be confirmed by endoscopy, where a narrow flexible telescopic instrument is passed down the oesophagus into the stomach to examine these internal organs.
What are the risks or complications?
Risks are uncommon but include a stricture, which is a narrowing of the lower oesophagus from long-standing oesophagitis. Another concern is Barrett’s oesophagus, where the cells in the lower oesophagus undergo change and have a small potential to develop into cancer.
What is the treatment?
Many factors such as smoking, obesity, chocolate, alcohol, spicy foods, and alcoholic drinks appear to relax the sphincter muscle and increase the risk of acid reflux. So the main things
Surgery is an option if your reflux is bad, especially with a hiatus hernia. The operation, usually performed through a ‘keyhole’ in the stomach, aims to improve the sphincter effect of the lower oesophagus and prevent reflux.