With the most common symptoms being nausea, regurgitation, or heartburn, acid reflux (or GERD) is an uncomfortable but treatable condition. It is important to realize, that like any condition, acid reflux needs to be properly diagnosed before you settle on a course of treatment for your symptoms.
Because acid reflux symptoms can be serious in some cases and because there can be symptoms that are sometimes shared by more serious disorders, it is important for your doctor to properly diagnose your the cause of your symptoms. This is usually done by a series of tests that can confirm diagnosis or rule out other potential possibilities:
Barium X-rays can help doctors identify abnormalities in your digestive tract.
One of the tests that is commonly used is called the Bernstein test. During this test, heartburn symptoms are replicated. Also called the acid profusion test, this is often performed in conjunction with a variety of other diagnostic tests.
Endoscopy is a process where a small camera is inserted down the throat using a flexiable cable called an endoscope. This allows doctors to view the interior of the esophagus and upper part of the stomach.
An esophagoscopy allows doctors to see inside the esophagus. Similar procedures like a gastroscopy or a duodenoscoy allow doctors to see inside the stomach and intestines. Sometimes, these procedures are performed simultaneously. Doctors usually refer to this as an esophagogastroduodenoscopy.
Manometry is a process where a tube goes down a patient’s nose and into the esophagus. Connected to a sensor, this device sends information to a computer, measuring the muscular pressure in both the stomach and esophagus.
Esophageal manometry allows doctors to measure the motility of the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) at the top of the stomach, as well as the rest of the esophagus.
A PH Monitor is a thin tube made of plastic. This tube is equipped with a special sensor that is able to measure the amount of acid that refluxes or backs up into the esophagus.
If you have concerns that you are suffering from acid reflux or GERD, it is important to realize that you shouldn’t just simply pop an over the counter pill as a quick fix each time you experience this problem. The bottom line is that acid reflux usually comes back and can be a lifelong problem.
The good news is that acid reflux is highly treatable once properly diagnosed. However, in rare cases, acid reflux can actually pose very serious health risks, so it is important to consult a physician to confirm both the diagnosis and the seriousness of your condition so you can follow the best treatment plan catered toward your individual situation.
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