How Do GI Doctors Diagnose and Treat Acid Reflux Disease?
A number of children and adults across the nation experience gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is a concerning digestive health disease. Characterized by persistent acid reflux, GERD occurs when the muscle separating the esophagus and stomach (lower esophageal sphincter) relaxes, allowing food and stomach acid to flows back into the esophagus. People with GERD commonly experience uncomfortable symptoms, such as pain or pressure in the chest, frequent belching, a dry cough, difficulty swallowing, a bitter taste in the mouth, and heartburn.
Heartburn or other acid reflux symptoms that occur more than twice a week could indicate the presence of GERD. It’s essential not to ignore any symptoms, as chronic acid reflux could damage the esophagus over time, causing Barrett’s syndrome, hiatal hernia, or other concerning health issues. The gastrointestinal (GI) specialists at Arizona Digestive Health in Phoenix, AZ are trained to diagnosed chronic acid reflux disease and can determine the ideal treatment to help you control your GERD symptoms.
How is GERD identified?
During your initial appointment at Arizona Digestive Health, your GI doctor will learn about your symptoms and thoroughly review your medical history. One or more of the following diagnostic tests might then be ordered to confirm the presence of GERD.
- Upper endoscopy: A thin tube that houses a camera is gently inserted into your esophagus to identify any tissue irritation. A biopsy might also be performed to screen for the presence of Barrett’s syndrome.
- Esophagram (barium swallow): With this test, you will drink a white, chalky liquid barium, and a series of radiographs will be taken. This will allow your gastroenterologist to see the upper part of your digestive tract and detect any swallowing difficulties or other esophageal concerns.
- Ambulatory pH study: A gastric pH sensor will be placed in your esophagus and will remain in place for a 24-hour period. The pH sensor is connected to a small apparatus that measures the level of stomach acid in your esophagus.
- Esophageal manometry: A narrow catheter is placed into your nose and down your esophagus to evaluate the function of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
Treating acid reflux disease
The initial approach to treating GERD usually involves implementing some dietary and lifestyle behaviors. Patients could experience some relieve by not consuming foods and beverages that tend to trigger acid reflux or other symptoms. These often include:
- Heavily seasoned foods
- Acidic foods
- Fried foods
- Processed foods
- Tomato-containing foods
It is also crucial to maintain an ideal weight, cease using tobacco products, avoid overfilling the stomach, and allow food to fully settle following mealtime before lying horizontally. In some cases, your gastrointestinal specialist could recommend taking nonprescription medications, like acid reducers or H2 antagonists (H2 blockers). Prescription drugs might be recommended in cases of severe heartburn. Such options include prescription-strength H2 antagonists and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Both forms of medicaments restrict stomach acid production to help inhibit the backward surge of acid.
For many patients, medications and adopting healthier lifestyle changes are sufficient to effectively treat acid reflux disease. However, in certain cases, a surgical approach may be the best option. At Arizona Digestive Health, our qualified GI physicians work with individuals to determine the optimal treatment plan for their particular needs.
Get treatment for acid reflux disease in Phoenix, AZ
For the majority of patients, periodic episodes of acid indigestion may not be a reason for alarm. However, if you often notice a burning sensation in your chest or other uncomfortable digestive symptoms, it might signify a persistent GI concern. A seasoned gastroenterologist can render an accurate diagnosis for GERD and acid reflux symptoms. Get in touch with the team at Arizona Digestive Health in Phoenix, AZ to arrange a visit with one of our GI doctors today.