Reflux can occur along a severity continuum, ranging from mild reflux, known as ‘GOR’ (gastro-oesophageal reflux), to the more severe type known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease ‘GORD’.
Although similar in many ways, there are a number of important differences between the two states, and recognizing these differences is crucial in both managing reflux and in finding the correct medication if necessary.
GOR can correct itself when a baby is roughly three or four months old and can usually be effectively managed through lifestyle changes such as adding a thickener to feeds, avoiding overfeeding, holding the child in the upright position for 30 minutes. This kind of reflux is tough going. I can still remember the constant screaming, floor walking and poor feeding, as well as a lack of any proper routine with my first child who had GOR. Nevertheless, it rectified itself when he turned three months old.
GORD, however, is totally different. The severities of the attacks are much worse and prolonged.
With GORD, normal coping mechanisms and the management techniques, such as keeping the baby upright after feeds, using stay down formula etc, will not work. Medication is almost always needed and the child can display symptoms for well over a year and in some instances, a lot longer. GORD is a long term illness, a disease; the child will need ongoing medical care and investigations. It can also cause a multitude of other health problems.
This information is crucial for any parent or caregiver dealing with this problem. Unfortunately GOR and GORD get thrown into the one pot is called “Reflux.” This is extremely frustrating for parents, as it is like comparing the common cold to pneumonia.
Parents and children struggle with this awful disease, often lacking support and understanding from surroundings, not least the medical profession. The majority of family members and friends and the wider community in general are completely unaware that there is a difference between reflux (GOR) and reflux disease (GORD). Many people are not even aware of reflux in the first place. I now tell people Raven has reflux disease or G0RD. It saves me from hearing a lot of the preconceptions that people may have about the disease and it lets them know that there is certainly a huge difference in the pain of the baby and the struggles of the parents.