How We Diagnose GERD
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. He or she will usually make an initial diagnosis of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) based on your symptoms. In some cases, other tests will be done to confirm the diagnosis or exclude other disorders.
These tests may include:
- Upper GI Series – A series of X-rays of the upper digestive system taken after drinking a barium solution
- 24-hour pH Monitoring – A probe is placed in the esophagus to keep track of the level of acidity in the lower esophagus; done over a 24-hour period
- Manometry – This test measures muscle pressures in the lower esophagus
- Endoscopy – A thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera attached is passed down the throat to examine the esophagus and stomach
- Biopsy – A small sample of tissue from the esophagus is removed. It is then studied to check for inflammation, cancer or other problems
Treatment for GERD
Treatment of GERD usually includes lifestyle changes and medications. In more severe cases, surgery may be needed.
Lifestyle changes can control the symptoms of GERD. Steps you can take:
- Avoid certain foods and drinks
- Quit smoking
- Wait to lie down or exercise after eating
- Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
- Keep your head elevated while sleeping
- Avoid overeating and eating too fast
- Avoid large amounts of fluid with meals
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks and coffee
- Avoid spicy foods, foods that are high in fat and chocolate
Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medications or prescription medications to treat your GERD.
- Proton pump inhibitors
- Mucosal protectors
- H2 blockers (also prescription strength)
Surgery for GERD
Surgery is only performed in severe cases of GERD.
UVA is the first medical center is this area to offer a surgical procedure called transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF), which doesn’t require any abdominal incisions. This innovative procedure allows doctors to reconstruct the antireflux valve, which is the barrier between the esophagus and the stomach.
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