Do you suffer from gastro-oesophagal reflux disorder (GORD)? We answer a few frequently asked questions.
Are there certain foods that make GORD symptoms worse?
Absolutely. Topping this list are foods that have a high fat content or are very spicy. All foods increase the acid in the stomach, but these foods increase the acid levels even more, thereby increasing the chances of reflux significantly. Very large meals also increase the chances of reflux occurring.
Is there any medication that makes the symptoms of GORD worse?
Any medicine that delays the process of stomach acids being emptied or that increases the levels of acids in the stomach. Other drugs that can cause heartburn when taken on an empty stomach are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and aspirin. Before taking any of these, it is best to consult your doctor first.
What about smoking and GORD?
Smoking is generally bad for your health and can irritate your stomach, but it has not been proved that it specifically worsens the symptoms of GORD. It is nevertheless detrimental to your health in general to continue smoking.
Can GORD be cured?
There is no real cure for GORD, but the condition can be managed very effectively by making some changes in lifestyle and diet. Medication for heartburn is a short-term solution only, and without the accompanying lifestyle changes, will have no long-term effect. Surgery basically consists of wrapping a part of the stomach around the lower end of the oesophagus, making reflux almost impossible.
Are there long-term complications of GORD?
This is quite possible, as the oesophagus is simply not made to deal with stomach acids and continuous exposure to these, could do long-term damage to the lining of the oesophagus. This can result in the narrowing or scarring of the oesophagus, which could make swallowing difficult. Long-standing GORD can also cause a condition called Barrett's oesophagus, which is thought to be a risk factor for oesophageal cancer. Damage to the teeth and vocal cords can also occur.