Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD) has a high prevalence in the general population of Western countries and manifests as oesophageal and extra-oesophageal disorders. It is caused by reflux of gastric contents from the stomach into the oesophagus and respiratory tract causing extremely varied symptoms. Some people suffer occasionally whilst others suffer on an ongoing basis and based on symptoms alone it is dificult to make a specific diagnosis of the cause. The causes are many and include nutrition, lifestyle, stress, medication etc.
The most prevalent symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD) are heartburn and regurgitation, but when the reflux reaches the larynx and the airways the symptoms change distracting the individual from the source of the problem, for example in the case of Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) or Reflux of the airways. These cases may present as a sore throat, chronic cough, hoarseness, the feeling of having something lodged in the throat, dysphonia, difficulty in swallowing, asthma, otalgia, loss of tooth enamel, and COPD exacerbation (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
Left undiagnosed and untreated, reflux disease can damage the oesophagus (erosive oesophagitis) and the epithelium may progress to metaplasia called Barett's oesophagus. This condition is considered a facilitating factor in the development of oesophageal and laryngeal carcinoma.