Chronic reflux is the most common digestive health condition affecting almost one in five people in the UK suffers from acid reflux disease. For many sufferers the symptoms of GORD can impact significantly on their day-to-day activities and quality of life.
What is reflux disease?
Acid reflux disease, also known as Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD), is a condition where acid from the stomach travels up into the oesophagus, causing ‘heartburn’ or acid in the back of the mouth. This happens if the valve between the stomach and the oesophagus is weak.
The Lower Oesophageal Sphincter is a muscle at the junction of the oesophagus and stomach that functions as the body’s natural barrier to reflux. It acts like a valve, allowing food and liquid to pass through to the stomach but closing immediately after swallowing, preventing reflux (see figure 1). However, in people with GORD this valve is weak, allowing acid and bile to reflux from the stomach into the oesophagus (see figure 2).
What are the symptoms?
People experience symptoms of GORD in a variety of ways. The most common symptom of GORD is heartburn. Symptoms may also include regurgitation, sore throat, cough and chest pain.
When GORD is left untreated, serious complications can occur, such as oesophagitis, stricture, Barrett’s
oesophagus, or oesophageal cancer.
How is it treated?
Initially lifestyle changes may be recommended such as avoiding certain foods and drinks, stopping smoking, weight-loss and/or eating earlier in the evening.
Your doctor may prescribe medication to lower the acid content in the stomach thereby helping to control symptoms and reduce inflammation.
Surgery is usually only recommended if symptoms continue despite drug therapy or if you would prefer not to take medication for the rest of your life.
Should I have surgery?
Reflux surgery has made a resurgence over the last 15 years, as a result of the use of minimally invasive surgery. There are a number of options including:
- The LINX® Reflux Management System - is a relatively new procedure available at only a few select places in the UK including Springfield Hospital. The LINX system is a small band of magnetic beads which are strong enough to keep the sphincter closed to prevent reflux but flexible enough to still enable it to open during swallowing and to allow for the release of gastric pressures such as burping or vomiting. Read more....
- Nissen Fundoplication Surgery - this procedure involves wrapping and stitching the top part of the stomach around the lower oesophagus to create a more effective and stronger sphincter to help prevent acid leaving the stomach. Read more….
What are the next steps?
- A GP referral is always very helpful as it will provide your consultant with useful information, but you may be able to self-refer for an initial consultation particularly if you are choosing to pay for your own treatment.
- Phone us on 01245 234040 to book an appointment within 72 hours or at a time to suit you.
- Meet one of our specialists for an initial consultation to discuss your health and assess your suitability for this treatment.
- If surgery is recommended, a date for your procedure will be arranged as soon as possible.