If you or your doctor suspect you might have Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, there are few different methods or procedures for confirming and diagnosing the condition. Below, we take a look at four tests to diagnose GERD, all of which are offered at Tampa Bay Reflux Center.
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus). It is caused by a physical abnormality due to the weakening in the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that opens and closes to allow food to pass into the stomach, but prevents the flow of stomach acid into the esophagus. Symptoms of GERD include frequent or chronic acid reflux or heartburn, regurgitation, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing.
During this procedure, your doctor or colorectal specialist will insert a flexible tube equipped with a camera on one end into your throat to study the inside of your esophagus and stomach. The endoscopy can detect any damage or inflammation in the esophagus. Another important thing looked for during an endoscopy is Barrett’s esophagus, a change in the lining of the esophagus that has been connected to an increased cancer risk.
This method is used to detect and measure stomach acid in the esophagus. Your doctor will insert a device into your esophagus, which is then left there for around 24 hours to measure the amount of acid in your esophagus. The monitor connects to a small, wearable computer the measures the stomach acid.
This test measures the rhythmic muscle contractions in your esophagus when you swallow. An endoscopic tool is inserted into the esophagus and then your doctor will ask you to swallow various liquids over a few minutes to view the function of your lower esophageal sphincter muscle and your overall swallowing ability.
During this test for GERD, you will be asked to swallow a barium pill or liquid containing barium. The barium lets doctors take X-rays of your esophagus, the images of which can help diagnose a narrowing of the esophagus that may interfere with swallowing. The barium will show up on an x-ray to help paint a better picture of what is going on in the esophagus.
Your GERD doctor will work with you to decide which diagnostic method is right for you based on your symptoms and unique needs. Sometimes additional tests may be required. Schedule an appointment with the GERD specialists at Tampa Bay Reflux today for more information.