The term ‘acid’ reflux tends to imply that the stomach juice that refluxes upward into the oesophagus causing symptoms is acid alone. However, the acid is the component of the stomach juice that causes irritation of the oesophagus and therefore, the symptoms

Acid reflux is just another term for gastro-oesophageal reflux.

The stomach juice that refluxes contains many chemicals, of which acid is only one. Drugs that are used to treat gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD or GERD) decrease or remove acid from the juices that are refluxing, but the reflux continues.

What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux and GORD are one and the same. These terms can be used interchangeably. However, for proper understanding, further explanation is needed. The juices that are contained within the stomach include a wide array of chemicals. These include bile, enzymes and others. The stomach also produces acid that is mixed with these other chemicals. Therefore acid is not the only thing that is refluxing, but the whole array of the chemicals in the stomach juice of which acid is only one.

About the acid

Heartburn is the most common symptom of acid reflux. The thought pattern that follows is if the acid is removed from the stomach juice, the irritant is gone. Even though the reflux of stomach juice is still occurring, symptoms do not happen. This is exactly what happens when any of the medications for acid reflux (or GORD) are taken. The drugs either neutralise the acid in the stomach juice or decrease its production by the stomach. Reflux continues, but in the majority of situations symptoms are improved. Notably, the actual cause of acid reflux is not addressed by the medications. The dysfunctional valve at the end of the oesophagus is not changed at all.

What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms of acid reflux are:

Heartburn: A burning pain or discomfort that may move from your stomach to your abdomen or chest, or even up into your throat.

Regurgitation: A sour or bitter-tasting acid backing up into your throat or mouth. Other symptoms of acid reflux disease include:

  • Bloating
  • Bloody or black stools or bloody vomiting
  • Burping
  • Dysphagia – a narrowing of the oesophagus, which creates the sensation of food being stuck in the throat
  • Continuous hiccups
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Wheezing, dry cough, hoarseness, or chronic sore throat.

References available on request.