What is reflux?

Reflux disease is a common condition, where the stomach contents passes back up into the oesophagus.

Contents of the stomach (e.g. acid, pepsin as well as bile) escapes through a valve at the top of the stomach into the oesophagus (the tube that carries food to the stomach) and even into the airways.

Normally, the stomach valve – a ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LOS) – opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and closes to prevent contents from flowing back into the oeosophagus. Reflux disease often stems from a weak or damaged LOS, leading to inappropriate reflux of stomach contents. This condition is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

During reflux, the contents of the stomach may also reflux all the way up the oesophagus, beyond the upper oesophageal sphincter (a ring of muscle at the top of the oesophagus), and into the back of the throat and possibly the back of the nasal airway. This is known as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).

Reflux tends to be progressive in that the more a person refluxes the more damage will be caused to the oesophagus and airways which in turn will cause further reflux. Some people may also be genetically predisposed to reflux.

Lifestyle and diet can also affect reflux symptoms, as well as hiatal hernia (when the upper part of the stomach is above the diaphragm), pregnancy, slow digestion and obesity.

Reflux and the digestive system graphic


Percentage of people with reflux disease


Number of people experiencing reflux symptoms over 12 months


Percentage of population unaware they have reflux disease.

Number of prescriptions written for reflux drugs worldwide

Common Symptoms of Reflux

Reflux symptoms

Why diagnosis of Reflux is important

Continuous, untreated gastro-oesophageal reflux disease or laryngopharyngeal reflux disease  can lead to a very poor quality of life and may also lead to serious problems, such as damage to the oesophagus, oesophageal cancer and cancer of the larynx.

Receiving reflux treatment without confirming that symptoms are caused by reflux can be dangerous. Taking medication when it is unnecessary can lead to long-term health problems and may conceal a serious underlying issue.

Many people take anti-reflux medication for months or years without understanding the serious risks.

Reflux diagnosis

How is Reflux diagnosed?

When you visit your GP or primary care provider with symptoms of reflux disease, such as heartburn, regurgitation and difficulty swallowing, you may be recommended to try:

  • Reflux medication
  • Lifestyle advice
  • Dietary changes

But if symptoms are persistent, you may be advised to go for tests that aim to confirm or disprove the diagnosis of reflux disease. Currently these include:

  • 24/48 hour pH monitoring
  • Impedance Testing
  • Barium Swallow
  • Endoscopy

All expensive, invasive, time consuming and unpleasant for the patient.

Peptest offers an easy path to diagnosis. It is an accurate, painless and inexpensive test that tells you conclusively if you have reflux by measuring the presence and concentration of a stomach enzyme called pepsin in a sample of your saliva.

reflux diagnosis

How to treat Reflux 

If you have had a positive diagnosis of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease or laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), there are a number of treatments available to you.

These can include medication, diet and lifestyle modifications and surgery. Surgery is usually only recommended in cases of reflux disease that fail to respond to other treatments.

Free Reflux Symptom Diary

Keeping a diary of your diet, lifestyle activities and symptoms can be very useful for diagnosing and managing a health condition with your GP.

Reflux diary


Peptest™ is a single use in-vitro diagnostic device not for ingestion. It conforms to the European Directive 98/79/EC on in-vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices; this is shown by the CE mark of conformity.

Peptest™ kits are manufactured in the UK by RDBiomed Limited - a private limited company registered in England and Wales with number 06979218.

RDBiomed Limited
Daisy Building (2nd Floor)
Castle Hill Hospital
Castle Road
HU16 5JQ, UK

VAT Number: GB 990 1918 96


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