Medical Testing and Treatments for GERD
by N J Howell
Additional GERD Information:
Addressing GERD Naturally
Treating GERD - Mayo Clinic
Middle of Night Reflux Relief
G.E.R.D. symptom triggers
This is part of a series on gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD. To get the full benefit, please read the introduction, what is GERD and any subsequent article sections. This is information is educational in nature and is not intended to replace medical evaluation. This is a partial list of GERD treatments and should not be considered exhaustive. Talk to your doctor about new options that may be available as well as discussing options that may be mentioned here.
How is GERD Evaluated?
The tests suggested by a gastrointestinal specialist vary, depending on the specific symptoms a patient presents with and the severity of those symptoms. Your doctor will outline a specific treatment plan after full evaluation of your condition and judging the severity of your symptoms. Some tests that are used to evaluate GERD include:
* X-ray examination of the esophagus
* Manometric study
* Esophageal pH study
How is gastroesophageal reflux disease treated?
There are several treatment options available for gastroesophageal reflux disease depending on the severity of the condition. These include:
* Over-the-counter antacids - Antacids suggested for GERD may cause constipation, diarrhea, increased thirst, and stomach cramps. If you have these symptoms, report them to you gastrointerologist.
* Prescription antacids - Please note that it is sometimes necessary to change the dosage, the time of day you take your antacid or even the type of prescription antacid you are prescribed before finding the right antacid that works best for you. It's important to monitor symptoms and to report any new symptoms to your doctor.
* Dietary changes - Your doctor will most likely suggest some important dietary changes to help you manage the symptoms of GERD and these may include avoiding some favorites such as chocolate and alcohol. They may suggest you stop smoking as well as cut back on high-fat foods.
* Natural GERD remedies - Your doctor most likely will not suggest natural remedies for this condition. They will lean heavily toward prescription medications or lifestyle changes. Those in natural health would agree with some of the lifestyle change suggestions but would also encourage you to check into remedies derived from natural sources and, in particular, homeopathic remedies which typically do not interfere with prescription medications. However, since homeopathy works, you'd need to have your doctor be willing to monitor you and start weaning you off the meds once the natural remedies kick in.
* Surgery - Surgery should be a last resort as it may be pretty invasive. The main type of surgery done for gastroesophageal reflux disease is called fundoplication. The purpose of fundoplication is to tighten the esophagus and this is accomplished by wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the lower part of the esophagus.
This surgery may be done laroscopically or in open surgery. Of course, open surgery means the abdominal cut must be larger because the surgeon will be working manually to wrap and sew the stomach to the esophagus. Unfortunately for some, symptoms may return even after surgery and more surgery may be required so it is truly a last resort.
Also, your doctor may suggest following a fundoplication recovery diet following this particular surgery, as is suggested by the UPMC website linked. This recovery diet involves some specific dietary changes that you may find tedious to maintain but that you may need to maintain for a good recovery and outcome.
Health Care Disclaimer: The information on GERD that you are reading is educational in nature and not expected to replace medical evaluation and/or needed treatment. If you have, or suspect you may have, gastroesophageal reflux disease get testing and evaluation so that you know what the situation is and are in a position to make an informed decision on treatment.