Reflux Oesophagitis (GORD)
Reflux oesophagitis (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease – GORD) is the back flow of acid from the stomach up through a normally closed muscle ring into the lower end of the oesophagus (gullet). It most commonly occurs in babies and overweight elderly men. Some infants have a defect or temporary weakness in the muscle ring at the bottom of the oesophagus.
In adults, factors such as obesity, smoking, overeating, a hiatus hernia, rapid eating, alcohol, stress, anxiety, and poor posture may cause the excessive production of acid in the stomach and/or slackness in the muscle ring.
Infants with reflux are in pain, with crying and irritability the main symptoms. Adults experience a burning sensation behind the breastbone (heartburn), a bitter taste on the back of the tongue and burping as gas escapes easily from the stomach. It is often worse at night after a large meal when the patient is lying down. If attacks are regular, ulcers may develop. Complications include scarring and narrowing of the lower end of the oesophagus to the point where it may be difficult to swallow food (Barrett syndrome), severe bleeding from ulcers in the oesophagus, and cancer of the oesophagus.