Acid reflux refers to when the contents of your stomach flows back into the esophagus, which is the tube that connects your throat to your stomach. When this condition is chronic, it is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In this post, we review how GERD is diagnosed and treated.
How Is GERD Diagnosed?
To diagnose GERD, your health care provider will perform a physical exam as well as ask you questions about your symptoms. They may also order a battery of tests, including:
- Barium swallow/upper gastrointestinal series. For this test, you will swallow a metallic fluid called barium, which coats the organs so they can be seen on an X-ray. Then, a doctor can check your esophagus, stomach and small intestine to see how they’re functioning.
- Upper endoscopy/esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). This test examines the lining of your esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The doctor advances an endoscope, which is a thin, lighted tube with a camera at the end, into your mouth and throat while you’re sedated. Then they can see the inside of your organs and take a small sample (biopsy) if necessary.
- Esophageal manometry. This test determines the strength of the esophagus muscles to see if you have any problems with swallowing or backflow. For this test, a small tube is placed through the nostril into the esophagus. The purpose of the tube is to check how much pressure your esophageal muscles make while at rest.
- pH monitoring. The doctor may also check the pH, or acid level, of your esophagus. A tube with a pH sensor is placed through the nostril into the esophagus. It’s connected to a monitor that records your pH levels for 24-48 hours as you do normal activities. You’ll also need to record what you ate and what symptoms you experience.
How Is GERD Treated?
There are many ways you can manage GERD. Lifestyle modifications such as these can help:
- Avoid fried foods, fatty foods, peppermint, chocolate, alcohol, citrus and caffeine.
- Eat smaller amounts of food at a time.
- Quit smoking.
- Wait a few hours between eating and lying down.
- Lose weight.
- Sleep with an extra pillow.
You can also take certain medications to help with GERD, such as:
- Antacids from Philadelphia Pharmacy.
- H2-blockers and proton pump inhibitors.
- Prescription pro-motility medications.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a GERD specialist, call Pinnacle ENT today.