The treatment for GORD will depend on how severe your symptoms are and how long you have been experiencing them.
There are a number of things that you can do to help the condition yourself, which may stop the symptoms without having to take medication – we will cover these below. However, if after trying this the symptoms continue, you can speak to a doctor about other suitable, stronger treatments for GORD. Read on to find out more.
There are some lifestyle changes that you can make which can help alleviate GORD symptoms, including:
- Eating a low-fat diet – low fat food is less likely to cause heartburn or acid reflux.
- Losing weight (if you have weight to lose) – being overweight can make GORD worse, so losing some weight may help with the symptoms.
- Eating at least 3 hours before going to bed to prevent the symptoms while you sleep. If you do experience GORD symptoms at night, try propping yourself up with pillows. Avoiding trigger food and drink – things such as caffeine, fizzy drinks, chocolate, spicy foods and alcohol can often trigger GORD, so try to avoid these.
- Quitting smoking - the chemicals contained in cigarette smoke can make the muscles in the oesophagus relax, causing stomach acid to move up the digestive tract.
- Wearing loose clothes - tight fitting clothes can put pressure on you stomach, so it cannot do its job properly.
- Try to avoid stress and anxiety - these can be a factor in the recurring symptoms of GORD.
If the change mentioned above do not help with your GORD symptoms, medication may be necessary to manage the condition. There are some over-the-counter medications that could help.
AntacidsThese work to neutralise excess stomach acid to reduce the risks of acid leaking into the oesophagus.
AlginatesThese protect your oesophagus and stomach from stomach acid.
If the lifestyle changes and non-prescription medications don’t help, a GP may prescribe you stronger medications - these include:
Low-dose proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs)These block and reduce the amount of acid produced in your stomach and may have to be taken on a long-term basis to get your symptoms under control.
H2-receptor antagonistsThe H2-receptor antagonists work in the same way as PPIs, by reducing stomach acid production. These may be prescribed if the initial PPIs didn’t work, or you may need to take the two medicines together for a short time.
These medicines are not suitable to be used by everyone - our doctors will be able to make sure you get the right type of treatment.
Surgery for GORD
Surgery is usually the last option to be looked at if everything else has failed to treat your GORD, or if you are unable to tolerate medications. If a doctor believes this to be the right option for you, they can refer you to a specialist, who will be able to explain the surgery options available to you.
The most common type of GORD surgery is the Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication or (LNF). This is a keyhole surgery carried out under general anaesthetic that tightens the muscle at the base of your oesophagus to prevent acid reflux occurring.
What happens if GORD is left untreated?
Ignoring symptoms or leaving GORD untreated can lead to complications in the long run, so it is important you treat it.
GORD related complications may include:
- Oesophageal stricture - scarring or narrowing of the oesophagus can happen because of repeated damage of the oesophagus by stomach acid and can cause it to narrow.
- Barrett’s oesophagus - long-term, recurrent GORD can cause the cells in the lining of the oesophagus to change, leading to this condition.
- Oesophageal cancer – Barrett’s oesophagus can develop into oesophageal cancer in some cases. If a doctor believes you are at risk, you may be referred for regular endoscopy tests to monitor the condition.
- NHS, Heartburn and acid reflux, 24/08/2017.
- Mayo Clinic, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), 09/03/2018.
- Dr Roger Henderson. Patient Info, Acid Reflux and Oesophagitis, 24/03/2016.