Gastrointestinal diseases

Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)

Heartburn is a burning sensation that rises from the stomach or lower chest up towards the throat. When symptoms of heartburn occur frequently or become troublesome, they may be an indication of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease or GORD. GORD occurs as a result of excessive exposure of the oesophagus (swallowing tube) to acidic contents from the stomach and it can have a negative impact on people’s day to day activities. Factors which could increase symptoms include smoking, caffeine, alcohol and certain foods such as fat and chocolate. Making dietary and lifestyle changes, including weight loss in people who are overweight, may reduce symptoms. GORD is a condition that is diagnosed by your doctor who will be able to advise you on the range of treatments available and recommend the one most suitable for you.

For more information on heartburn and GORD, visit AstraZeneca’s website www.heartburn.com.au.

Ulcers

An ulcer is an erosion or a break in the lining of the gut caused by damage from acidic digestive juices. Ulcers can form in the oesophagus (swallowing tube), the stomach (gastric ulcers), and the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). While stomach acid plays a significant role in the development of ulcers, other factors that can cause ulcers include smoking, infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori, and the use of certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Symptoms of an ulcer are variable, but may include upper abdominal burning or pain. In some cases, serious complications can occur like bleeding or perforation (erosion of the ulcer right through the gut wall). Fortunately, most ulcers can be healed with treatment which your doctor can prescribe for you.

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)

H. pylori is a bacterium (germ) that can infect the human stomach. It can cause inflammation of the stomach lining, leading to stomach and duodenal ulcers, and rarely may cause stomach cancer. It is still the most widespread infection in the world, being most common in developing countries and less common in Australia. Approximately 30-40% of Australians over 60 years of age may have H. pylori. Most people who have H. pylori infection never develop symptoms or the disease.

For more information on H. pylori, talk to your doctor or click here

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