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Acid Reflux Disease (GERD) (cont.)

Acid Reflux (GERD) Diagnosis

Your doctor usually can diagnose reflux disease by the symptoms you report.

  • Diet and lifestyle changes may be recommended first, and perhaps an over-the-counter antacid.
  • If symptoms continue more than 4 weeks despite this therapy the person may be referred to a gastroenterologist, which is a doctor who specializes in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

The gastroenterologist may perform an upper GI series.

  • This is a series of X-rays of the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the intestine.
  • It is taken after you drink a contrast liquid that makes certain features show up better on the X-rays.
  • This series is sometimes called a barium swallow for one type of contrast liquid that is used.
  • This test gives less information than endoscopy but is ordered to rule out other conditions such as ulcers or blockage of the esophagus. The upper GI series is sometimes skipped altogether.

The gastroenterologist may perform an upper GI endoscopy, also called esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD, a procedure that can be done as an outpatient.

  • You receive sedation then a flexible probe with a tiny camera on the end is passed down your throat. The camera allows the doctor to see damage to the esophagus, how severe the GERD is, and rule out serious complications.
  • Your esophagus may appear normal if you have mild GERD.
  • This procedure allows the specialist to make diagnoses, assess damage, take biopsies if necessary, and even treat certain conditions on the spot.

Esophageal manometry is a test that measures the function of the lower esophageal sphincter and the motor function of the esophagus. A tube is passed down your throat until it reaches the esophagus. It is often performed along with 24-hour pH probe study.

In a 24-hour pH probe study, a thin tube is placed down into your esophagus for 24 hours. The tube monitors episodes of acid reflux over the day and while you sleep.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/28/2014
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease »

Gastroesophageal reflux is a normal physiological phenomenon experienced intermittently by most people, particularly after a meal.

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