GERD: How Is It Diagnosed and Treated?
Countless adults and kids in the nation have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition categorized as chronic acid reflux disease. GERD can develop when the lower esophageal sphincter (the muscle between the esophagus and stomach) becomes lax, enabling stomach acid and food to flow back into the esophageal area. Kids and adults with reflux disease might experience distressing symptoms, like heartburn, pain in the chest or upper abdomen, frequent belching, difficulty swallowing, an unpleasant taste in the mouth, and a persistent dry cough.
If heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux occur over two times a week, gastroesophageal reflux disease could be to blame. It is important to never ignore any GERD symptoms as prolonged acid reflux can harm the esophageal tissues over time. This can ultimately lead to more serious problems, like Barrett’s esophagus or hiatal hernia. The gastrointestinal (GI) doctors at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants in the DFW area are trained to diagnose GERD and can determine the ideal solution to help alleviate your acid reflux symptoms.
How is gastroesophageal reflux disease identified?
During an appointment at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants for your appointment, one of our gastroenterologists will inquire about your health history and symptoms. Your gastrointestinal (GI) specialist might recommend one or more of the procedures listed here to render a diagnosis.
- Upper endoscopy: A flexible scope fitted with a camera is carefully inserted down your upper digestive tract to identify inflamed tissues. A biopsy might also be performed to check for Barrett’s syndrome.
- Ambulatory pH testing: A catheter containing a special pH sensor will be placed in your esophagus. It will remain in place for a 24-hour window. The catheter is connected to a special apparatus that measures the amount of stomach acid present in the esophagus.
- Barium swallow (esophagram): You will swallow a chalky, white liquid before undergoing a series of x-ray images. These x-rays will allow your GI doctor to evaluate the upper portion of your gastrointestinal tract and identify any swallowing difficulties or other GI concerns.
- Esophageal manometry: A thin catheter is placed through your nose and down your esophagus to examine muscle contractions in the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
GERD treatment options
The initial phase of treating gastroesophageal reflux disease generally centers on making some lifestyle and nutritional behaviors. Patients may gain additional relief by avoiding certain foods and drinks that are known to result in acid reflux, including:
- Heavily seasoned foods
- Tomato-containing foods
- Processed foods
- Greasy foods
- Citrus fruits
- Alcoholic beverages
It is also essential to keep a healthy weight, cease the use of tobacco products, allow food to fully settle following meals before lying down, and avoid eating too much. Additionally, your gastroenterologist may suggest taking over-the-counter medications, such as acid reducers or antacids. In instances of chronic acid reflux symptoms, prescription medications might be recommended. Such options include prescription-strength H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These classes of medication limit the production of stomach acid to lower the risk of reflux acid.
For many people, using medications and incorporating healthier lifestyle habits are enough to effectively treat gastroesophageal reflux disease. However, in some situations, surgery may be a necessary remedy. At Texas Digestive Disease Consultants, our skilled GI doctors work with individuals to identify an optimal treatment approach for each specific circumstance.
Get treatment for acid reflux disease in DFW
In the majority of cases, sporadic episodes of acid reflux are not a reason for concern. However, when you frequently have acid regurgitation or heartburn, it can be indicative of a persistent gastrointestinal condition. An experienced GI specialist at one of our DFW gastroenterology practices can provide an accurate diagnosis for GERD and chronic acid reflux. Contact the team at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants today to arrange a visit with a member of our skilled team.