What is Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)?

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is a long-term condition where excess acid from the stomach backs up into the oesophagus, causing symptoms such as heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest, coughing, throat or mouth pain, choking, and a sore throat.

GORD often develops slowly over time, and is often not very obvious until a person has been suffering for a while, or experiences symptoms.

What causes gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)?

GORD is caused by the abnormal movement of the oesophagus, which is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. The oesophagus is a muscular tube that connects the throat through the stomach.

When the oesophagus is not functioning correctly, acid can flow back into the oesophagus from the stomach. The oesophagus is a very sensitive tube and it reacts to the acid.

Normally, the muscles around the oesophagus relax when the stomach is full, so that the stomach contents can be pushed down the oesophagus. These muscles are controlled by the brain. When the brain cannot tell the oesophagus to relax, the oesophagus and stomach become overstretched, and the muscles can’t relax properly.

As a result, the stomach contents can leak back into the oesophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest.

It is important to remember that the stomach contains many different types of bacteria, so it is possible to develop GORD as a result of a bacterial infection in the stomach. Bacteria from the stomach can also travel into the oesophagus.

Why do some people get GORD?

There are many reasons why some people get GORD.

Some people may have a condition that causes the oesophagus to become more sensitive to acid.

It is also possible to get GORD if the muscles around the oesophagus become less sensitive to acid.

GORD can also be caused by certain medications, or by a rare condition known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GEOD) syndrome.

Who gets gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)?

GORD is more common in those aged over 60, but it can affect people of any age. It is more common in women than in men.

How long does gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) last?

GORD symptoms can last for a few days to a few months, but they usually start out mild and gradually get worse.

What are the possible complications of gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder (GORD)

GORD can cause serious complications if it is not treated.

If left untreated, it can cause:

  • Stomach ulcers
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • A blocked or obstructed oesophagus
  • A hernia
  • A perforation of the oesophagus
  • A perforation of the stomach wall
  • A perforation of the small intestine
  • A hole in the diaphragm

Some people may also suffer from a condition called erosive oesophagitis, which is an inflammation of the oesophagus.

What is erosive oesophagitis?

Erosive oesophagitis is a long-term condition that occurs when the oesophagus is damaged. It is usually caused by an infection or irritation of the oesophagus.

Erosive oesophagitis occurs when the oesophagus becomes inflamed. It usually occurs after an infection or inflammation of the oesophagus. The inflammation causes a build-up of fluid (mucus) in the oesophagus, which can cause irritation and swelling.

If you have erosive oesophagitis, you may have symptoms of heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest, and a sore throat.

Erosive oesophagitis can also cause:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A chest infection
  • A feeling of fullness or bloating after eating
  • A cough
  • A hoarse voice
  • A change in the colour of the blood in the saliva
  • Weight loss
  • A change in the colour of the urine

Symptoms of erosive oesophagitis usually start to improve when the infection is treated.

It is important to remember, however, that erosive oesophagitis is not a serious condition. It is usually not very serious, and it will usually get better on its own without treatment.

If you think you have erosive oesophagitis, you should see your GP. They will be able to examine you and ask about your symptoms. They will also be able to look at the inside of your oesophagus to check for signs of inflammation.

Treating gastro-oesophageal reflux

If you have GORD, your GP will be able to treat it in a number of ways.


If your symptoms are mild, you may be able to manage them with antacids. Antacids are medicines that neutralise acid in your stomach.

It is important to remember that antacids can only treat mild symptoms, and they should not be used for long periods of time. They may also cause side effects, such as diarrhoea, constipation, or stomach pains.

Antacids are safe for most healthy adults to take. They are usually available over the counter. However, you should always check with your GP before taking antacids, as some can interact with other medications.


If your symptoms are severe, your GP will be able to prescribe a pill to help with your symptoms.

Pills are usually taken by mouth. They are usually taken once a day, and they can be taken for three to six months. Some people find that taking a pill makes their symptoms less severe, while others find that their symptoms get worse.

If you have severe symptoms, you should discuss taking a pill with your GP.

Lifestyle changes

If your symptoms are mild, you can try to change your lifestyle.

Try to avoid things that may irritate your oesophagus, such as smoking, alcohol and caffeine. It may also help to avoid foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar.

You may also find it helpful to:

  • Take regular exercise

Now over to you

You can also get in touch with our helpline on 0808 800 00 00, or via our live chat

If you have any questions or concerns about your symptoms, you can also fill in a symptom questionnaire.

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