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Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is a common condition where patients have symptoms caused by food and fluid in the stomach going back up into the oesophagus or gullet. On a weekly basis, up to 1 in 5 (20%) people will experience some symptoms of GORD. For many people, symptoms are minor, but in some patients they can be particularly bothersome, difficult to control and interfere with their quality of life.

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Image credit: BruceBlaus (2017)

Different symptoms that patients with GORD can experience are explained below.

Heartburn or pain

A common symptom is a burning or achy sensation in the middle of the chest behind the breast bone or in the upper part of the abdomen or tummy. Sometimes this can be severe and people report feeling pain in this area.

Reflux and regurgitation

Many people report feeling fluid or an acidic sensation that comes up into the back of their throat. Often this is just a small amount of fluid that many people automatically swallow again. However, some people have larger volumes of fluid that come back up, and this can be made worse  in certain positions, such as leaning forward or lying down.

Difficulty swallowing

Another common symptom is difficulty eating and drinking. The medical term for this is dysphagia. This may vary day-to-day, so the same food or drink can be more or less of a problem on different days or weeks. Some people find food may get stuck on the way down, which can sometimes be felt in the middle of the chest behind the breast bone.

Other symptoms

A whole range of other symptoms may be described by patients with GORD. These can including belching, bloating, bad breath and a cough. These symptoms can be due to GORD, but they can also be due to many other common conditions. It can sometimes be very difficult to confidently determine whether these symptoms are due to reflux or something else.