Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is when acid, pepsin and other gastric contents escape out of the stomach and up into the oesophagus and even into the airways.
During normal digestion, a stomach valve called the Lower Oesophageal Sphincter (LOS) opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and closes to prevent food and acidic stomach juices from flowing back into the oesophagus.
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) often results from a weak or damaged LOS which relaxes inappropriately and allows stomach contents to reflux into the oesophagus.
In some cases, stomach contents may reflux all the way up the oesophagus and beyond the upper oesophageal sphincter – the ring of muscle at the top of the oesophagus – and into the back of the throat and airways. This is known as extra-oesophageal reflux (EOR), Airway Reflux, silent reflux or laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).
Symptoms typically associated with GORD usually occur at distinct times and include heartburn and regurgitation. Symptoms associated with Airway Reflux are often continuous and include hoarseness, lump in the throat, sore throat, chronic cough, throat clearing, voice changes, trouble swallowing and shortness of breath.
Other symptoms that are also associated with reflux include asthma, sleep apnoea, tooth decay and even snoring.