Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) - Diagnosis & Treatment

How is GERD diagnosed?

Your doctor will first review your symptoms and medical history. Based on this information, your doctor may suggest several lifestyle changes or medications to address the underlying problem.

If these interventions do not improve your symptoms, your doctor may recommend the following tests:

  • Endoscopy to closely examine the lining of the upper gastrointestinal tract. This may be followed by a biopsy, if necessary.
  • Upper gastrointestinal series to find problems related to GERD, such as hiatal hernias, oesophageal strictures, and ulcers.
  • Oesophageal pH and impedance monitoring, which measures the amount of acid in the oesophagus while you go about your normal routine.
  • Oesophageal manometry to check for weak sphincter muscles.

How is GERD treated?

There are different treatment options available for GERD, which depend on the severity of the condition. Your doctor will evaluate your condition and suggest the most suitable treatment.

Lifestyle and dietary changes

Your doctor may recommend the following changes:

  • Avoiding late meals
  • Avoiding food that induces your acid reflux
  • Wearing comfortable clothing to avoid pressure on the stomach
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating smaller meals
  • Raising your pillow
  • Quitting smoking

Prescription medications

If you experience moderate-to-severe GERD symptoms that are not relieved by lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medicine, your doctor may prescribe certain medications for your condition. These prescription medications may include:

  • Several types of proton pump inhibitors to lower the amount of acid made by the stomach
  • Prokinetics, which help accelerate stomach emptying

Surgery

Your doctor may recommend surgery if your GERD symptoms fail to improve with lifestyle changes and medicine. These may include:

  • Fundoplication. This surgery is done using a laparoscope and is the most common surgery for GERD. The goal is to increase pressure to the lower end of the oesophagus and reduce reflux. It often leads to long-term reflux control.
  • Endoscopic techniques. Endoscopic sewing and radiofrequency may be used to tighten the sphincter muscle. These newer procedures may be suitable for certain patients.

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