Acid Reflux / GORD
Welcome to Qoctor’s online doctor service which can provide assessment, advice and treatment for acid reflux or GORD (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease).
Our online doctor will ask you some questions about your health, and may advise a video consultation.
Once you’ve been assessed, treatment may be recommended- you can then opt to have a paper prescription sent to your home or local pharmacy, or medication delivered to an address of your choice, from one of our partner pharmacies.
About Acid Reflux & GORD
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (also known as GORD or acid reflux) is a common condition caused by acid rising from the stomach into the oesophagus (food pipe). This can cause symptoms such as heartburn, nausea, bloating, indigestion, belching, a taste of acid in the mouth, and sometimes a dry cough.
- It can be triggered by various things, such as acidic or rich foods, large meals, alcohol, being overweight, and smoking.
- If you’ve had reflux for a few days, a short course of antacid medication may get rid of the symptoms. If this does not work, it’s essential you see a doctor for a check up, as there can be a more serious underlying condition.
- Some people suffer from reflux on an ongoing basis and need to take antacids every day. Anyone who needs long term antacids should have a camera test (gastroscopy) to make sure there is nothing more serious going on, and should also have a check up with their doctor every 6 to 12 months.
Common Questions and Answers
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is a general term which encompasses acid reflux, heartburn, indigestion and oesophagitis. It may include one or more of these conditions. It is caused by irritation of the stomach or food pipe (oesophagus) by stomach acid.
The stomach naturally makes acid as part of the normal digestion process. Usually the sphincter at the bottom of the oesophagus acts as a valve and keeps this acid in the stomach. Acid reflux can happen if this sphincter is weak, if there is too much acid made in the stomach, if the stomach is not emptying properly, or if there is increased pressure in the stomach, forcing acid back up into the oesophagus.
Many things can trigger Acid Reflux / GORD including:
- Hiatus Hernia
- Helicobacter Pylori ( a common infection of the stomach)
- Acidic or spicy food and drink
- Large fatty meals
- Medications (including anti-inflammatories, certain blood pressure medications, sleeping tablets and painkillers)
The main symptom of GORD is heartburn. This is a discomfort or burning sensation which rises from the upper tummy or lower chest up towards the neck. Other common symptoms include:
- An acid-like taste in the mouth
- Persistent dry cough
- A feeling of a lump in the throat
- A burning pain when you swallow hot drinks
Symptoms tend to be worse after or with meals.
If you get any of the following symptoms you should seek immediate medical attention. They may indicate a more serious underlying condition:
- Chest pain or upper tummy pain worse on exertion
- Difficulty swallowing foods or liquids
- Persistent pain on swallowing
- Persistent vomiting
- Vomiting blood or dark brown vomit
- Unexplained weight loss
- Altered bowel habit (diarrhoea or constipation) for more than 6 weeks
- Altered stool (dark or black poo)
- Lump in the abdomen (tummy)
- Unexplained anaemia
- New GORD symptoms in someone aged 55 years or over
- GORD symptoms with any of the following:
- Family history of stomach or oesophageal cancer in more than two first degree relatives
- Barrett’s oesophagus
- Pernicious anaemia
- Previous stomach ulcer surgery
- Pernicious anaemia
- A previous diagnosis of the following stomach conditions: dysplasia, atrophic gastritis or intestinal metaplasia
Most people are diagnosed with GORD by their GP on the basis of their typical symptoms and their response to treatment. Further tests may be needed if:
- Symptoms are severe
- Do not improve with treatment
- Are not typical of GORD
- There are any red flag symptoms
If further investigation is required a gastroscopy is usually the next step. This is where a thin, flexible telescope is passed down the oesophagus into the stomach. A normal test helps to rule out more serious causes of reflux symptoms, particularly stomach cancer.
Obviously, it makes sense to make some lifestyle changes, and avoid the triggers listed above- for example avoiding smoking, alcohol and weight gain. There are over the counter medications which help to neutralise acid, as well as other medications which may be prescribed by doctors.
Oesophageal stricture– Acid Reflux / GORD can cause scarring and narrowing of the food pipe called an oesophageal stricture if left untreated. This can lead to difficulty swallowing, and problems eating and drinking.
Barrett’s oesophagus – this is a complication of long standing, untreated Acid Reflux / GORD. The excess acid causes a permanent change in the cells that line the oesophagus. It increases the risk of developing cancer of the oesophagus, and thus needs to be managed and monitored.
But most people with Acid Reflux / GORD do not develop any of these complications. If you have any concerns then you should discuss them with your doctor.
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