Should I See a Gastroenterologist for GERD Diagnosis and Treatment?

GERD diagnosis and treatment

Numerous children and adults across the United States experience gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is characterized as a chronic form of acid reflux disease. GERD occurs when the muscle separating the esophagus and stomach (lower esophageal sphincter or LES) relaxes, enabling stomach acid to splash back up into the esophagus. Kids and adults who have acid reflux often report uncomfortable symptoms, such as heartburn, a bitter taste in the mouth, trouble swallowing, a persistent dry cough, and frequent belching.

When you experience heartburn or additional symptoms of acid reflux that occur over two times a week, it could be due to gastroesophageal reflux disease. It’s vital not to ignore your symptoms, as chronic heartburn can damage the lining of the esophagus over time, causing hiatal hernia, Barrett's esophagus, or other serious conditions. The gastrointestinal (GI) doctors at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates in New Orleans, LA are skilled at detecting GERD and can provide the ideal treatment option to help alleviate your symptoms.

How is gastroesophageal reflux disease diagnosed?

Over the course of your visit at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates, our GI team will review your symptoms and medical history. Your gastroenterologist may order one or more of the following diagnostic tests to determine if GERD is present.

  • Upper endoscopy: A narrow scope fitted with a camera is placed into your esophagus to evaluate for inflamed tissues. A biopsy might also be performed to diagnose Barrett’s syndrome.
  • Esophageal motility study: A narrow catheter is inserted into one of your nostrils and down your upper GI tract to analyze the function of the lower portion of your esophagus.
  • Barium swallow (esophagram): During this exam, you will swallow a chalky, white liquid. X-rays will be captured to enable your gastroenterologist to evaluate the upper portion of your digestive tract and detect any swallowing problems or additional concerns.
  • Ambulatory pH monitoring: A gastric pH sensor will be placed in your esophagus and will stay in place for a 24-hour period. The pH sensor transmits information to a special apparatus that tests the amount of stomach acid in the esophagus.

GERD treatment options

Treatment for GERD typically centers on making some lifestyle and nutritional changes. You may gain some relief by not consuming certain foods and drinks that tend to trigger acid reflux, such as:

  • Tomato-based foods
  • Peppery foods
  • Acidic foods
  • Greasy foods
  • Chocolate
  • Processed snacks
  • Coffee
  • Sodas
  • Alcoholic drinks

It is also important to avoid eating too much, wait at least two hours following eating meals before lying flat, maintain an ideal weight, and cease using tobacco products. Additionally, your GI specialist could suggest taking over-the-counter medications, such as acid reducers or antacids. For patients with advanced acid reflux symptoms, prescription medications might be recommended. These might include prescription-strength proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers. Both types of medication restrict stomach acid production to help prevent the regurgitation of acid.

Taking medications and making improved lifestyle habits is sufficient to properly manage GERD for many individuals. However, in some situations, a surgical approach may be the best option. At Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates, our highly trained GI specialists partner with patients to determine the best treatment option for every unique situation.

Find care for acid reflux in New Orleans, LA

For many people, periodic episodes of acid reflux are not a cause for concern. However, if you experience a burning sensation in your chest or acid regurgitation quite frequently, it may be indicative of a long-term gastrointestinal condition. A knowledgeable GI doctor can render a diagnosis for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Contact the team at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates in New Orleans, LA today to book a visit with one of our caring specialists.