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GORD, Heartburn, Acid Reflux

GORD, Heartburn, Acid Reflux

Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD) is more commonly called heartburn or acid reflux. It is a common condition in which the special sphincter that separates the stomach from the food pipe (oesophagus) fails to close properly meaning that as the food is churning away in the stomach, stomach acid can back up into the oesophagus and produce that familiar burning sensation behind the breastbone that can move upwards towards your neck and throat.

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Most people with GORD get heartburn at least two or three times a week and it is not uncommon for heartburn to be their only symptom. On some days, bouts of heartburn may be brief. On others, heartburn may last for a long time. Sometimes it lasts for several hours.

Other symptoms of GORD include:

  • A sour or bitter taste in your mouth
  • Feeling that food is coming up your throat and into your mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Dry cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A lump in your throat
  • Watery mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Feeling tired.

Whilst occasional heartburn after overindulgence is not a health risk, persistent symptoms can lead to damage to the oesophagus and increase the chances of developing oesophageal cancer.

If you experience any of the following more serious symptoms it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

  • Vomiting blood
  • Black stools
  • A feeling that food sticks in your throat when you swallow
  • Losing weight without trying

Underlying causes

If you have GORD, your heartburn will tend to get worse after you eat, when you bend forward, or when you lie down.

SIBO – Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth – This condition is due to more bacteria being present in the small intestines than there should be, this can cause bloating and distention and upwards pressure which can results in Gerd and reflux. There is more information about SIBO here and you can buy a SIBO breath test here.

Diet and lifestyle – Eating large portions of food, eating before bedtime, lying down after eating and wearing tight clothes can all make GORD symptoms worse. Symptoms can also be triggered by certain types of foods such as those which are acidic or spicy. Some thing, for example chocolate and smoking, even have the ability to relax the oesophageal sphincter, making it much easier for acid to escape form the stomach. In addition, a diet high in sugar, fried foods, alcohol, coffee and fizzy drink can all predispose you to GORD. If you suffer from this condition regularly Smart Nutrition would be able to help you identify your trigger foods as well as aiding you in improving your diet for long term digestive health.

Being overweight – In overweight people space taken up by extra fat can mean that organ within the body have less space to function properly. In the case of the stomach, being overweight increases the pressure in the stomach making it more likely for acid to escape into the food pipe. Trimming down could help you to avoid or ease heartburn as well as reducing you risk of developing other heath problems such as joints problems and cardiovascular disease.

Pregnancy – Many heavily pregnant women suffer from heartburn. This is because carrying a baby puts pressure on the stomach, decreasing it’s volume and forcing food back from whence it came. If you are pregnant and suffering badly with heartburn you might like to consult a nutritionist who can give you dietary and lifestyle advice on minimising your symptoms

Hiatus hernia – The stomach is situated below a layer of muscle called the diaphragm. The oesophagus reaches the stomach through a small opening in this wall of muscle. A hiatus hernia is a physical condition where part of the stomach protrudes through this opening in the diaphragm and gets trapped. This predisposes the sufferer to heartburn but it is rarely the sole cause. A hiatus hernia can generally be reduced without surgery.

Food allergy or Intolerance – Food allergy or Intolerance can cause all sorts of digestive disturbances including heartburn. Identifying and eliminating these foods can be a crucial step in remedying these symptoms. Nowadays, foods allergies can be easily tested for and once identified Smart Nutrition could advise you on practical ways to change you diet. Test for Food Allergies or Intolerances.

Digestive problems – Imbalances in stomach acid levels, digestive enzymes and gut flora have all been correlated with heartburn. Ironically, heartburn is more often found to be caused by low stomach acid, that high! If you suffer form heartburn or any other digestive symptoms you might like to consider A Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis. This can be used to determine the efficiency of the digestive process and can be used to determine whether stomach acids levels are optimal. A nutritional therapist can then write a protocol for you that will improve you digestion and balance stomach acid levels to keep your insides happy.  

Stress – The first organ system to lose its blood supply, during a stress reaction, is the intestinal tract. If you have been storing up stress for a long time, your intestinal tract will be chronically starved for blood, motility will be compromised and digestive secretions such as stomach acid will be reduced. This make food much more difficult to digest and the decrease in stomach acid can precipitate heartburn. If you have a stressful lifestyle and feel this may be a factor in your condition,  An Adrenal Stress Test can help pinpoint precise imbalances that could then be targeted with the help of Smart Nutrition.

Medications – Some medications such as acid blockers, asthma inhalers, corticosteroids, pain killers such as aspirin and ibuprofen, anti-anxiety medications and osteoporosis drugs cause heartburn as a side-effect. If you regularly use these pharmaceutical and suffer from heartburn you might like to consider seeing a nutritional therapist who will be able to help you manage your digestive symptoms and may be able to aid you in dealing with the underlying condition that means you require these drugs in the first place. 

Overuse of antacids – It is very common for people with heartburn to assume the problems stems from over acidity in the stomach. In fact, in most cases it is actually a lack of stomach acid that causes the condition! Whilst antacids temporarily relieve the burning sensation, using them regularly further reduces stomach acid and may cause you to experience heartburn more often. The best approach is to Book a Consultation with Smart Nutrition and we can investigate the underlying cause of your problem to provide you with a long term solution.