Gastro-oesophageal reflux refers to the passage of food or acid in the wrong direction from the stomach into the oesophagus (gullet). This is due to various reasons, but basically the muscular ‘valve’ at the junction of the oesophagus and the stomach is failing. It can cause unwanted symptoms and may also cause damage to the oesophagus.
Symptoms include discomfort or pain felt behind the sternum (breast bone), bad taste in the back of the mouth, acid in the back of the mouth, regurgitation of food or fluid up into the back of the mouth, or symptoms related to acid being aspirated into the lungs such as unexplained cough or chest infections.
It is important that if the diagnosis of gastro-oesophageal reflux is suspected, it is investigated appropriately to make the correct diagnosis and then formulate a management plan. Investigations include gastroscopy and measurement of acid in the oesophagus.
If this diagnosis is confirmed, often the initial treatment is with anti-acid medication. In some patients, particularly if food reflux is a major problem, then anti acid treatment is inadequate. For this, and other reasons, Anti-Reflux Surgery is often considered, also known as a Fundoplication.