Tips on Diagnosing Acid Reflux
The damage that is caused to the inner walls of the esophagus because of abnormal reflux of the contents present in the stomach is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux disease. It occurs because of the improper functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter which acts as barrier between the stomach and esophagus. When you visit a doctor to treat acid reflux, he will first examine the symptoms that you are experiencing and perform laboratory tests to confirm it.
Heartburn – the Most Common Sign of Acid Reflux Disease
The very first sign that will indicate that you are suffering from GERD is heartburn. It can be described as a condition in which you experience pain or burning sensation below the center area of your chest. Mostly, heartburn happens after meals and if you try to bend or lie on the bed, the condition can worsen. However, heartburn can also be caused by other medical conditions such as stomach ulcer. Heartburn is also one of the side-effects caused by anti-inflammatory drugs. Bacterial infection caused by Helicobacter pylori can also lead to heartburn.
Confirming the Presence of Excess Acid in the Stomach
After you get up in the morning, before have anything, you should drink a solution prepared with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda mixed in one glass of water. It will cause you to belch. You need to carefully note the time it takes you to burp. If your tummy is producing is acid in normal levels, you should burp in two or three minutes. If your tummy is producing increased levels of acid, you will start burping continuously and if this happens, you should visit your doctor.
Laboratory Diagnosis for Acid Reflux Disease
Your doctor may first prescribe you a trial medication which can include an antacid. The trial medication will be given to you reduce increased production of digestive acid in the stomach.
Esophageal Acid Testing
Esophageal acid testing is another test in which a thin tube is inserted through your nose to pass through your esophagus. The tube contains an exclusive acid-sensitive tip which will notify the level of acidity when analyzed after a period of 24 hours.
This test also includes passing a tube that is mounted with a camera through the nose into the esophagus to reach the stomach. It will exactly show the extent of damage done by acid reflux to the lining of esophagus.
If gastrointestinal endoscopy reveals that the patient is suffering from serious problems of acid reflux like narrowing of esophagus or ulcers, the doctor will perform a biopsy to diagnose lethal conditions like cancers and infections.
The doctor will suggest the patient to consume a solution of barium swallow (a contrasting agent) that will help in examining the esophagus carefully through X-ray. It can also reveal ulcers and esophagus strictures.