Gastro-oesophageal reflux

Gastro-oesophageal reflux

What is gastro-oesophageal reflux?

This is the irritation of the oesophagus, caused by stomach acid. The trouble is caused by a faulty oesophageal sphincter, the muscular ring at the lower end of the oesophagus, near the diaphragm. If this sphincter does not work properly, stomach acid flows into the oesophagus, causing a burning sensation. This is known as heartburn. In severe cases the irritation of the lower oesophagus is called oesophagitis. Gastro-oesophageal reflux is the most common cause of indigestion in Ireland.

What causes it?

What are the symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux?

How is it diagnosed?

How is it treated?

Generally antacids are recommended. These are drugs which neutralise the hydrochloric acid secreted in the digestive juices in the stomach. If symptoms persist, prescription medication may be necessary to reduce the amount of acid formed within the stomach. Occasionally surgery is recommended in very severe cases, where the oesophageal sphincter is reinstated, preventing reflux and heartburn.

How can I prevent gastro-oesophageal reflux?

The following changes in lifestyle can reduce the risk of developing reflux:

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