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Spreading the Word About GORD

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is a common complaint among the general community. Despite the lack of data on the prevalence of the disease in Australia, it’s estimated to affect anywhere between 10–15% of the population.

While heartburn and regurgitation are hallmark symptoms of GORD, diagnosis is dependent on the frequency of these episodes. According to NPS MedicineWise, in cases where the reflux symptoms are frequent (i.e. two or more episodes per week) or are severe enough to significantly impact the person’s quality of life, GORD is the likely diagnosis.

Nonetheless, it can be useful for pharmacists to distinguish between GORD, general reflux symptoms (which aren’t necessarily a confirmed diagnosis of GORD) and other conditions.

Gastroenterologist and lecturer at Western Sydney University Dr Vincent Ho explains, “Heartburn is classically described as a burning, retrosternal, rising sensation associated with meals. This can be quite difficult to define for many people and it would be useful for pharmacists to clarify the nature of the symptoms when the term heartburn is used.

“For example, if a person states that their heartburn is a central heavy chest pain, which radiates to the left arm and is worse with exertion, that is much more likely to be cardiac angina than GORD.

“Occasionally, there may be alternative causes of heartburn—other than GORD. These include oesophageal cancers, peptic ulcer, large hiatus hernias and rare medical conditions such as eosinophilic oesophagitis and achalasia.”

Alongside heartburn and regurgitation, a person may experience atypical symptoms. These include excessive belching, nausea, dyspepsia, chest pain, hoarseness, coughing and asthma.

Red flags to be aware of and that would warrant referral include:

  • difficulty swallowing (dysphagia);

  • painful swallowing (odynophagia);

  • unexplained weight loss;

  • persistent vomiting;

  • blood in vomit (haematemesis) or dark black, tarry, sticky faeces (melaena);

  • signs or symptoms of anaemia; and

  • new onset of persistent symptoms in those aged 55 years or older.

Risk factors associated with the symptoms of GORD include:

  • obesity (BMI >30kg/m2);

  • presence of hiatus hernia;

  • impaired oesophageal or gastric clearance;

  • the consumption of more than seven standard alcoholic drinks per week;

  • a first-degree relative with a history of heartburn;

  • pregnancy; and

  • certain medicines, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), some antibiotics, as well as iron and potassium supplements.

Click here to read the full article, and be sure to complete the Frequent Heartburn & Treatment Options - QCPP education module listed below to learn how to best assist customers suffering from Heartburn.

Source: https://ajp.com.au/features/spreading-the-word-about-gord/ , viewed 7 June 2021.

 

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Frequent Heartburn & Treatment Options - QCPP

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