Recently, we talked about some symptoms and risk factors of GERD. In this article, we are going to discuss how to best diagnose and treat GERD.
Before determining the best course of treatment for your GERD, it’s essential to get an accurate diagnosis from a qualified medical professional. This is true for any condition. If you don’t know the specifics of the underlying cause of your condition, you can’t hope to treat it effectively. Diagnosing GERD begins with a physical examination, coupled with a review of the patient’s medical history. Your doctor will likely ask you a variety of questions to determine what’s triggering your symptoms. Perhaps it’s a particular type of spicy food, for example. This will help your physician get a better understanding of your situation.
In some cases, endoscopic or upper GI testing may be required to solidify a diagnosis. An upper GI series is a diagnostic x-ray that gives the physician a good view of the esophagus, stomach, and the upper part of the small intestine. This test is more helpful in ruling out other potential underlying causes (like peptic ulcers) rather than solidifying an exact diagnosis of GERD.
Once your physician has determined that GERD is the cause of your symptoms, you can begin to discuss treatment options. Effective treatment methods will vary from patient to patient. What works for one may not work for another. Your GI doctor, who has a full understanding of your condition and associated factors, will be able to make a recommendation as to the best course of treatment.
Depending on your unique situation, treatment options for GERD may include any of the following:
- Lifestyle and dietary change
- Weight loss
- Quit smoking
- Medications (antacids, proton pump inhibitor, H2 blockers, etc.)
Treatment typically begins with conservative options like lifestyle and dietary changes. For example, if you notice that a certain food is causing your GERD symptoms to flare up, avoid eating that food. Spicy foods, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, and fatty foods are common culprits of acid reflux flare-ups. Additionally, not eating 2-3 hours prior to sleep can also decrease symptoms.
Chaska GERD Doctor
If these methods fail to effectively reduce symptoms, your gastroenterologist may recommend additional treatments like surgery. However, it should be noted that most patients will not require surgery for GERD and surgical intervention should only be used as a last resort when all other treatment options have been exhausted.