Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is the medical term for the common symptoms of heartburn, reflux or indigestion. Up to 20% of the NZ population suffers from this problem either intermittently or continually. GORD is usually worse in smokers, the overweight and those with a hiatus hernia. It can even mimic angina or heart pain.

Untreated, GORD can lead to permanent damage or scarring to the oesophagus (food pipe). Ulcers can form with bleeding also occurring. Barrett’s oesophagus (a change in the lining of the lower food pipe) is a cancer risk and can only be detected by gastroscopy examination.

Gastroscopy may be indicated in people who have:

  • Symptoms not well controlled with antacids
  • Frequent vomiting, including bringing up blood
  • Regurgitation of food after eating or bending
  • Difficulty swallowing solid or chunky food
  • A family history of oesophageal or stomach cancer
  • Known Barretts oesophagus.

Normally, treatment of reflux symptoms is very successful and can avoid ongoing discomfort or serious problems. Medications usually control or fix the problem, but sometimes surgical repair of hiatus hernia is needed.