Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD), also known as GERD, is a chronic, often progressive condition resulting from a weak Lower Oesophageal Sphincter (LOS). When left untreated, serious complications can result, including: oesophagitis, stricture, Barrett’s oesophagus, and oesophageal cancer.
The LOS is a ring of muscle at the junction of the oesophagus and stomach that functions as the body’s natural barrier to reflux. The LOS acts like a valve, allowing food and liquid to pass through to the stomach. Normally, the LOS closes immediately after swallowing, preventing reflux (Fig. 1). However, in people with GORD, the LOS is weak, allowing acid and bile to reflux from the stomach into the oesophagus (Fig. 2).
Figure 1: A competent LOS prevents chronic reflux into the oesophagus
Figure 2: A weak LOS allows reflux into the oesophagus
People experience symptoms of GORD in a variety of ways. The most common symptom of GORD is heartburn. Other symptoms may include:
Read an interview with Mr Majid Hashemi, Consultant Upper GI Surgeon at the Hospital of St John and Elizabeth. Majid is a specialist in the treatment of reflux and bariatrics and provides answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about reflux.