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Diagnostic Tests for GERD

In order to receive the proper diagnostic tests for gerd or gastroesophageal disease it is very important to get them done by a doctor in a medical environment. Many of the symptoms associated with the illness can overlap with those of other and this makes it a difficult one to diagnose by the individual suffering. Some of the signs are similar to those of a flu and others can go unnoticed for years as they happen during the night.

doctor performing diagnostic tests for gerd

Heartburn, for example, is a symptom of acid reflux which is often mistaken for a heart attack. The pain and pressure which it produces within the chest region has nothing to do with the heart, but because of its location it even received a name which includes the word "heart" in it. Some of the testing which can be done to properly diagnose the cause are the upper endoscopy, ph test and the barium x-ray.

Upper Endoscopy

Also known as a EGD, the upper endoscopy lets the physician look inside of the esophagus, duodenum, and stomach of the suffering patient. The duodenum is the first section of the small intestine. To perform this task a small instrument labeled as the endoscope is used. This is basically a very thing and flexible lighten tube which is place into the throat area through the nose of the patient. The procedure is a bit unpleasant as you will have a foreign object place in your nose and travel all the way down your throat but it will help the doctor determine the amount of damage caused by the reflux.

The examiner will look at the tissue and walls of the upper digestive tract and look for anything that is out of order. This could encompass ulcers, polyps, tumors, burns, inflammation, hiatal hernias and other problem areas or disorders. Based on the evidence, you will be able to receive better treatment as you actual condition will be better understood. The difficulty with acid reflux symptoms is that are not the same for all individuals and may damage the tissue and different levels and severity.

Before the procedure you will be informed not to eat for six hours or more in order to keep the stomach empty. The doctor will then spray your mouth with a local anesthetic in order to calm the gag reflex. You might also receive an additional sedative to help you relax.

The endoscope will be slowly inserted through your nose and down into the esophagus. The urge to vomit is normal, but the tube should not interfere with breathing in any way. The tiny camera located on the end of the tube will send the video to an outside monitor via which the doctor can monitor and record the damage.

Some patients have a sore throat for a couple days after the procedure but that usually passes on its own without complications. If vomiting blood or anything of the sort occurs, the physicians should be notified immediately.

Barium X-Ray

Commonly known as a barium swallow, the barium x-ray is used in order to diagnose any abnormalities within the digestive tract. The patient is given a colored liquid which contains the barium and this will then coat the sides of the stomach and esophagus. Since the barium is visible under an x-ray, the person evaluating it can see if there are any visible problems such as ulcers, strictures or abnormalities.

Most of the time this test would be used for people that are having problems swallowing their food and is not sensitive enough to be used in order to diagnose acid reflux or GERD. This type of test can be received at a hospital within the radiology department.

Before the test you will be asked not to drink or eat anything in the morning of the exam. As you stand against an upright x-ray table located in the front of a fluoroscope you will drink the barium. The examining radiologist will observe the barium move down the digestive tract and might ask you to position yourself in different ways to see the tract at different angles.

After the exam you will be advised to eat foods high in fiber and drink plenty of liquids in order to avoid constipation. Barium takes a day or two to leave the body and can cause stomach cramps as well as diarrhea.

Ph Testing

A ph test is used to measure the acidity and alkalinity within the person's body. A small tube is placed through your nose and left for 24 hours in order to sensor the fluid that is in the esophagus. The patient will be asked to write down any symptoms or times when they are feeling heartburn and this will help evaluate what is really going on within the body.

Some retailers have begun selling home ph tests which are small tabs that you either place under your tongue or pee on in order to measure the acidity. These are not very accurate and can be down right misleading if not used properly. For example, the second urination of the day is less dense then the first and will not show the acidity as well. Some specialists are also concerned whether this can be used at all to measure the levels of stomach acid as the body is a very complicated piece of equipment.

The above mentioned are the most common diagnostic tests for gerd and will help you understand the exact causes and severity of the condition.


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