Acid reflux affects nearly 25 million people every day, which can be a pretty uncomfortable thing to deal with on a daily basis. You may be experiencing frequent or severe heartburn and acid reflux, but does that mean you have GERD?
GERD—or gastroesophageal reflux disease (say that three times fast)—is a disease in which stomach acid frequently flows back into your esophagus and can irritate the lining of it. But how do you define “frequently” in this case? And how do you know when to see a reflux doctor? Below, we’ll take a look at symptoms of GERD, how it’s diagnosed, and when it’s time to see a specialist.
People experience the symptoms of acid reflux and GERD in different ways. While the most common symptom is heartburn, other symptoms can include:
· Chest pain
· Sleep disruption
· Sore throat
The symptoms of GERD may seem like commonplace acid reflux or heartburn, but there is one difference: the severity and regularity with which you suffer from these symptoms. If you are suffering from symptoms of GERD more than twice a week, it’s important that you schedule an appointment with your doctor to diagnose and talk through treatment options for GERD.
Your physician or reflux doctor may be able to diagnose based on a physical examination or your medical history of chronicled symptoms, but to confirm the diagnosis, there are a number of tests your doctor can use.
Upper Endoscopy: a test in which your physician will insert a tube with a camera at the end into your throat to examine the inside of your esophagus and stomach. The test is used to look for inflammation of the esophagus or to collect a biopsy to test for any complications.
Esophageal Manometry: this test uses a device to measure the rhythm of muscle contractions in your esophagus when you swallow.
X-ray: your doctor may order an x-ray of your upper digestive tract, before which you may be asked to swallow a barium pill or drink a liquid that coats the lining of your digestive tract allowing your doctor to diagnose any ailments.
Treatment for GERD
Once you have been diagnosed with GERD, it’s likely that your doctor will first recommend lifestyle changes. He or she will “prescribe” changes such as diet, exercise, lifestyle, etc. and then monitor whether or not there were changes in your symptoms. If you do not experience any changes to the frequency or severity of your symptoms, your doctor will likely recommend anti reflux surgery, which provides a more permanent relief to symptoms of GERD by physically correcting the root issue.
During your first appointment, your doctor will ask a number of questions in order to choose a diagnosis and treatment plan moving forward. Be sure to answer them and have any questions ready to ask your doctor. Untreated GERD can cause complications down the line, so it’s important to seek treatment sooner rather than later. Begin treating your symptoms of GERD and free yourself of the discomfort associated with GERD.
The specialists at Tampa Bay Reflux Center are equipped to conduct any of the abovementioned diagnostic tests and treatment methods in order to ensure you can stop worrying about your GERD and start getting back to living your life.