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Acid reflux an introduction

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is a common condition where stomach acid leaks out of the stomach and into the oesophagus (gullet).

Symptoms of GORD include:

  • heartburn – burning chest pain or discomfort that occurs after eating
  • an unpleasant sour taste in the mouth caused by the stomach acid coming back up into the mouth (this is known as regurgitation)
  • difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)

The symptoms of GORD can range from mild to severe.

Lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS)

It is thought that GORD is caused by a combination of factors. The most important factor is a muscle called the lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS) not working properly.

The LOS acts like a valve. It opens to let food fall into the stomach, and closes to prevent acid leaking out of the stomach and into the oesophagus. In cases of GORD, the LOS does not close properly. It allows acid to leak up out of the stomach.

How common is GORD?

GORD is a very common digestive condition. It is estimated that around 1 in 5 people will have at least one episode of GORD a week.

GORD can affect people of all ages, including children. The condition is twice as common in men as it is in women.

Known risk factors for GORD include:

  • being overweight or obese
  • being pregnant
  • eating a high-fat diet


The outlook for GORD is generally good, and most people respond well to treatment with medication.

However, relapses are common. Around half of people experience a return of symptoms after a year. As a result, some people may need a long-term course of medication to control their symptoms.

A small number of people with GORD do not respond to medication and need surgery to treat their symptoms.

More serious cases of GORD can trigger a range of complications, such as:

  • oesophageal ulcers (open sores that develop in the lining of the oesophagus)
  • bleeding of the oesophagus
  • mouth-related problems, such as tooth decaygum disease and bad breath
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Related Information

Acid reflux an introduction - Find everything you need to know about Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease including causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, with links to other useful resources.... more

Acid Reflux - Symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease - The three most common symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) are: heartburn regurgitation of acid into your throat and mouth ... more

Acid Reflux - Causes of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease - In many cases of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) there is no reason why a person develops the condition.However, one of the known causes of GORD is a... more

Acid Reflux - Diagnosing gastro-oesophageal reflux disease - In most cases, your GP will be able to diagnose gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) by asking you some questions about your symptoms.Further testing for... more

Acid Reflux - Treating gastro-oesophageal reflux disease - Self-care There are a number of self-care techniques that may help to relieve the symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). They are described... more

Acid Reflux - Complications of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease - The excessive acid that is produced by gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) can damage the lining of your oesophagus and eventually lead to the formation... more

Acid Reflux - See what the doctor sees with Map of Medicine - See what your doctor sees, find out what is happening with your Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease treatment and what the next steps might be.... more

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