GERD or gastro esophageal reflux disease is what many people commonly refer to as acid reflux disease. This is an illness in which the liquefied contents of the stomach back up into a person esophagus. The regurgitated stomach contents contain acids and pepsin which can cause a very severe damage to the esophagus, although severe damage only happens in a small amount of cases.
Once you get acid reflux disease you will likely have it for a long time because it is a chronic condition. Once the esophagus becomes damaged it is also a chronic condition. Treatments can be performed to improve the state of the esophagus however once treatment is stopped the symptoms and problems can return within a matter of weeks. When diagnosing acid reflux disease there are five specific ways your doctor will help determine if you have GERD.
Acid reflux disease has one common symptom, heartburn. If a doctor believes your heartburn is being caused by acid reflux disease then they will often prescribe a medicine for you that will help stop the production of acid in your stomach. If your condition stops then it is assumed you were suffering from acid reflux disease. However, this first form of diagnoses can sometimes be unreliable.
The second way of diagnosing acid reflux disease is through an endoscopy. During this procedure a tube is swallowed which allows your doctor to see exactly what is happening inside the esophagus. However, those with acid reflux disease will often have a normal looking esophagus. Therefore, this method of diagnosis typically only works in those people who have had acid reflux for so long that the esophagus has become damaged. Although if an ulcer or other ailment is causing the problem then this diagnosis may work.
Biopsies are the third option. These are typically used to search for cancer in the esophagus. It is used to diagnosis acid reflux disease but it can also determine alternate causes of the symptoms.
Exams and Tests
The fourth option is an examination of the throat and larynx to help diagnosis acid reflux disease. If either the throat or the larynx is inflamed then this can indicate if the patient has acid reflux disease but inflammation can be caused by a number of other symptoms.
The final option is esophageal acid testing which is probably the best and most accurate way to determine if a person is suffering from acid reflux disease. It is also a less obtrusive method as well. In this procedure a tube is placed through the nose and into the esophagus where it stays for twenty-four hours. There is a sensor at the end of the tube that measures the amount of acid reflux a person suffers from in a twenty-four hour period.
Depending on the seriousness or your condition or how long you have experience symptoms a doctor may decide to do several of the above tests. The test may also be conducted in various orders to help rule out several reasons for you acid reflux.