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 & 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 oesophageal sphincter (LOS) – opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and closes to prevent contents flowing back into the oesophagus. Reflux disease often results from a weak or damaged LOS which causes stomach contents to reflux inappropriately. This is known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
During reflux, the contents of the stomach may 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.
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
Why diagnosis of Reflux is important
Continuous, untreated gastro-oesophageal reflux disease or laryngopharangeal 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.
It is dangerous to receive reflux treatment without getting confirmation that symptoms are caused by reflux. Taking medication when it is not needed can cause long-term health problems and may mask a serious problem.
Many people take anti-reflux medication for months or years without understanding the serious risks.
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
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.
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.
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.
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