- An acidic taste in your mouth after eating, caused by stomach acid coming back up into the mouth
- Bad breath
- Excessive belching
- Sickness and vomiting
- Pain when swallowing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Inflamed oesophagus (oesophagitis)
Lifestyle changes can include:
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals
- Avoiding foods or drinks that trigger symptoms
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Practicing relaxation
- Stop smoking
- Avoid wearing tight clothing
- Raising the head of your bed
- Taking antacids, which you can buy from a pharmacy
- Taking proton-pump inhibitors that reduce the amount of stomach acid
Surgery is an option if symptoms don’t improve by lifestyle changes and medication.
Consultation with a specialist, who can conduct the necessary diagnosis tests, is the first step to better understanding your symptoms.
Damage to the lining of the oesophagus can cause ulcers, which may be painful, bleed or make swallowing difficult.
Certain medications used to treat GORD can help heal ulcers. These include proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that reduce the acid levels in the stomach.
Damage to the oesophagus can also cause scarring, which in turn causes a narrowing of the pipe, known as oesophageal stricture.
Swallowing can become difficult and painful. These are procedures to widen the oesophagus again, one which uses a small balloon.
Common symptoms of bile reflux include:
- Abdominal pain, which may be severe
- Frequent heartburn
- Sour taste in your mouth
- Nausea and vomiting a greenish-yellow fluid
- Unexplained weight loss
Bile reflux can be caused by:
- Complications following surgery, including gastric surgery, gastrectomy surgery or a gastric bypass for weight loss
- Peptic ulcers
- Gallbladder surgery
Bile reflux over the long term can lead to Barrett’s oesophagus and oesophageal cancer in some cases.
With Barrett’s oesophagus, the cells in the oesophagus grow abnormally. It isn’t a cancer however the risk of cancer is increased slightly.
Acid reflux and GORD are the two main causes of this condition and around 10% of people with Acid reflux will develop Barratt’s oesophagus.
Symptoms of Barrett’s oesophagus are similar to that of GORD, particularly heartburn.
Barrett’s oesophagus is diagnosed using an endoscope, a flexible tube with a camera that can assess the oesophagus and also take tissue samples for further assessment.
Treatment options are similar to those offered for GORD, which reduce the acid production in the stomach. Other forms of treatment aim to strengthen or remove the affected area if lifestyle changes and medicine doesn’t work.
Symptoms of oesophageal cancer include:
- Difficulty to swallow
- Persistent indigestion
- Hoarse voice
- Unexplained weight loss
- Persistent cough, or coughing blood
These symptoms require specialist medical attention. As with most cancers, treatment is most successful when it is diagnosed at an early stage.