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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) FAQs (cont.)

What kind of a doctor treats GERD?

GERD may be initially diagnosed by your family or general practitioner (primary care provider), who may then refer you to a gastroenterologist, a specialist in disorders of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. If your symptoms are severe and require surgery, you will be referred to a general surgeon. Certain diagnostic tests for GERD are done by a radiologist.

Should I see my health-care professional if I have symptoms of GERD?

Call your health-care pprofessional if you have any symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that occur frequently, disrupt your sleep, interfere with work or other activities, or are not relieved by taking nonprescription antacids. If you have heartburn 3 or more times a week for at least 2 weeks, a visit to your health-care professional is warranted.

If you have been taking antacids, tell your health care provide so that he or she can monitor how well they work and how often you need to use them.

Will I have to have tests to see if I have GERD?

Your health-care professional may be able to diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease just by the symptoms you report. If symptoms continue for more than 4 weeks despite this therapy, you may be referred to a gastroenterologist. If your symptoms are severe, you may have to undergo some tests.

There is no simple blood test for GERD. The tests used to diagnose GERD include the following:

  • Upper GI (gastrointestinal) endoscopy
  • Upper GI series (barium swallow)
  • Esophageal manometry
  • 24-hour pH monitoring

What is the treatment for GERD?

The goals of treating gastroesophageal reflux disease are

  • reducing reflux,
  • relieving symptoms, and
  • preventing damage to the esophagus.

Your health-care professional may recommend treating GERD in a stepwise fashion.

  • For mild symptoms, simple lifestyle modifications may be enough.
  • The next step is nonprescription antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums, or Rolaids.
  • Other treatments include acid blockers and even surgery.
  • In most cases, one or more of these treatments provide relief from GERD and prevent it from turning into a more serious disease.

I take nonprescription antacids when I have symptoms, but they don't seem to help.

Nonprescription antacids are only part of the treatment for GERD. They can work very well, but these antacids alone usually can't stop the symptoms. Your health-care professional will probably recommend that you make changes in your lifestyle as well.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/19/2015

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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.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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