It’s not uncommon to have occasional heartburn or acid reflux (stomach juices flowing back up into the esophagus). But if you experience these conditions more than twice a week, or if they’re severe enough to interfere with your daily activities, you may be suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as GERD. A chronic digestive disease, GERD can cause permanent damage to your esophagus and other complications if left untreated.
A Geisinger gastroenterologist can diagnose whether you are suffering from GERD and determine a course of treatment.
Methods of diagnosis may include
- Endoscopy - to inspect the lining of the esophageus for injury or precancerous change
- 48-hour Bravo esophageal pH test — During an upper endoscopy, a small disposable capsule is attached to the wall of the esophagus. The test measures how frequently reflux occurs and how acidic the reflux is. The information is transmitted to a receiver, and the patient keeps a diary of daily activities such as eating, drinking, lying down and getting up. Results are analyzed based on information from the receiver and diary.
Most GERD can be successfully treated by medication. Over-the-counter remedies that neutralize, reduce or block acid may control simple heartburn. If you’re diagnosed with GERD, your doctor may order prescription medication that is stronger than remedies available over the counter. In certain cases where medication is not effective at controlling symptoms, surgery may be indicated