Animation: gastro-oesophageal reflux

Take a look at our animation showing gastro-oesophageal reflux and how it causes symptoms.

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Normal digestion

Food is propelled down the oesophagus into the stomach. The stomach secretes acid to digest food.

The lower oesophageal sphincter closes to contain stomach contents, and the liquefied food is moved on to the duodenum.

Gastro-oesophageal reflux

Food is propelled down the oesophagus into the stomach. The stomach secretes acid to digest food.

The lower oesophageal sphincter remains open. Stomach acid and partially digested food refluxes up into the lower oesophagus.

A cocktail of partially digested food and acid irritates and damages the lining of the oesophagus. Unlike the stomach lining, the lining of the oesophagus does not have a layer of protective mucus.

Stomach acid irritates the lining of the oesophagus, causing symptoms such as heartburn, or indigestion.

Last Reviewed: 4 June 2010
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References

1. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). Heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux (GER), and gastroesophaeal reflux disease (GERD) (updated 2007, May). Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd/ (accessed 2010, Jun 8)
2. Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA). Facts about heartburn oesophageal reflux (3rd edition, 2007). Available at: http://www.gesa.org.au/leaflets/heartburn.cfm (accessed 2010, Jun 8)
3. Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) and Digestive Health Foundation. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease in adults Reflux disease (4th Edition, 2008). Available at: http://www.gesa.org.au/pdf/RefluxDisease4Ed08.pdf (accessed 2010, Jun 8)
4. GUT Foundation [website]. Oesophagus. Available at: http://www.gut.nsw.edu.au/Content/Oesophagus.aspx (accessed 2010, June 17)
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