Gastroesophageal reflux (GER), more commonly known as acid reflux, refers to when the contents of your stomach flow back into the esophagus – the tube that connects your stomach to your throat. If this condition is chronic and persistent, you may be diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). We review how GERD is diagnosed and treated below.
Your physician will conduct a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms in order to diagnose you with GERD. They may also order one or more of the following tests:
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. This way they can see the inside of your organs and take a small sample (biopsy) if necessary.
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.
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.
You can treat GERD though lifestyle modifications and/or by taking medications.
Lifestyle changes include:
- Avoiding fried foods, fatty foods, peppermint, chocolate, alcohol, citrus and caffeine
- Eating smaller amounts of food at a time
- Quitting smoking
- Waiting a few hours between eating and lying down
- Losing weight
- Sleeping with an extra pillow
- Antacids from Family Plaza Pharmacy
- H2-blockers and proton pump inhibitors
- Prescription pro-motility medications
To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call South Valley Ear Nose & Throat today.