REFLUX ( GASTRO-OESOPHAGEAL REFLUX)

This is a condition where the natural defences within the body’s upper digestive system designed to prevent the reflux of acidic stomach contents into the oesophagus (gullet) is impaired. Approximately one in five people in the developed western word suffer from reflux (otherwise known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease or GORD) on a consistent basis due to the poor closure of their lower oesophageal sphincter. This can lead to damage to the lining of the oesophagus causing various complications such as oesophagitis, ulcers and Barrett’s oesophagus.

Random symptoms of reflux are much more common, with most people suffering reflux-type symptoms at some point in their lives. These symptoms are typically minor and do not last very long. Symptoms include heartburn, bad breath, chest pain, vomiting and the gradual wearing away of the teeth due to the acidity levels.

Lifestyle factors that can lead to reflux occurring include

Obesity
Pregnancy
Smoking

Certain medications, anti-depressants and sleeping pills for example, can also cause recurring reflux symptoms to occur.

Reflux can be treated non-surgically through lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, weight loss and avoiding certain foods. Medication (acid suppressing tablets like pantoprazole or omeprazole)) is first line of treatment. If surgery is required, the typical procedure involves repairing the diaphragmatic hiatus and strengthening the oesophageal sphincter by wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the area (fundoplication).

Heartburn and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). The stomach releases strong acids to help break down the food. If the esophageal sphincter opens too often or does not close tight enough stomach acid can reflux or seep back into the esophagus damagin