Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease

We can help you beat gastro-oesophageal reflux disease

Most people experience acid reflux and heartburn after a heavy meal or excessive coffee consumption. The stomach contents become acidified and travel up into the oesophagus, where they irritate the sensitive mucous membrane and cause burning pain. In cases of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, the attacks of heartburn become chronic, usually as the result of a poor diet, smoking or stress.

At Schoen Clinic, our consultants and surgeons specialise in both non-invasive and surgical treatments for patients suffering from chronic heartburn. We would be delighted to help you to get your reflux under control.

Causes & symptoms

What is gastro-oesophageal reflux disease?

Gastro-oesophageal reflux or reflux oesophagitis is diagnosed when continuous backflow of the stomach contents into the oesophagus causes frequent heartburn or acid reflux.

Especially at night, many people suffer from the constant irritation of sensitive mucous membranes in the oesophagus and throat. These areas are susceptible because, unlike the stomach, they are not protected against aggressive stomach acid. Over time, the constant irritation can lead to pathological changes in the oesophageal mucosa in a preliminary stage of cancer.

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: Causes of heartburn

The primary causes of this unpleasant condition include poor eating habits with irregular or heavy meals, high levels of stress, alcohol and smoking. In addition, certain medications cause heartburn as a side effect. All of these factors increase the quantity and acidic concentration of the stomach's contents. If there is a congenital or acquired weakness of the lower oesophageal sphincter, the stomach can no longer retain its contents, which flow back into the oesophagus, resulting in heartburn.

Symptoms: Signs of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease

Acid reflux typically manifests as frequent, painful heartburn that is felt all the way up to the throat. However, it can also result in throat irritation, chronic earache, voice changes, chronic irritation of the upper respiratory tract or a furred tongue.

In the advanced stages of the disease, the symptoms become especially severe after sweet or greasy meals, lying down for prolonged periods, bending over or heavy lifting. The consumption of tobacco or alcohol can also trigger a backflow of the stomach contents and thus acid reflux. In certain cases, this can also result in chest pain.

Diagnostics

Diagnosis: Identifying gastro-oesophageal reflux disease

In case of suspected reflux, the first step at Schoen Clinic is to discuss the history of your condition in detail. During this process, our specialists pay particular attention to your specific symptoms. This is followed by a detailed clinical examination, in which we perform a functional diagnosis of your stomach and bowel – this enables us to determine the extent of the backflow of the stomach contents into the oesophagus and throat.

Via an endoscopy (gastroscopy), we can detect changes in the oesophagus or stomach and take tissue samples for subsequent examination. The proton pump blocker test is also frequently used to diagnose reflux. Via this test we can determine your response to gastric acid-inhibiting drugs.

Specialist diagnosis

Our consultants use additional procedures to ensure an accurate diagnosis:

  • 24-hour ph measurement
    Measurement of the pH value in the stomach, for example during food intake or with various body positions, such as lying down or standing
  • Impedance measurement
    Determination of the electrical resistance or electrical conductivity of the gastric and oesophageal mucosa
  • High-resolution SRM
    Measurement of pressure and continuity of the peristaltic wave from the oesophagus to the stomach 
  • Supporting radiological examination
    X-ray with contrast agent