There are a number of ways in which GERD can be diagnosed. Diagnosis is quite a complex procedure. When diagnosing for GERD, it is important to ensure that symptoms are purely due to GERD and not any other underlying problem. Sometimes some other conditions are mistaken as Acid Reflux condition.
One of the most common symptoms of GERD is heartburn. Heartburn is caused due to acid reflux which is usually formed after meals, due to a number of reasons. Patients complaining of heartburn are prescribed drugs that help to neutralize the excess acid in the stomach. This is often used to diagnose Acid Reflux condition and is known as a therapeutic trial. In case the patient finds relief from heartburn by taking the prescribed drugs, he is a confirmed GERD. Well, this method is not a completely accurate method of diagnosing GERD. Sometimes more serious conditions can have these symptoms.
Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
One of the common ways of diagnosing GERD is by Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. In this procedure, a small camera is inserted into the oesophagus. This helps to examine the internal organs like the oesophagus and stomach so that inflammation if any, can be detected. This method does not prove to be beneficial for many since the oesophagus looks normal in many patients suffering from GERD. In some patients, the inflammation is easily visible and the gastrointestinal endoscopy is helpful in diagnosing GERD. This endoscopic method is also helpful in identifying ulcers. If any ulcers are formed you may be advised for further diagnosis and immediate treatment. More serious problems like cancer can be seen and identified by gastrointestinal endoscopy. Hence this diagnostic method would be worth it, as it may reveal underlying problems if any.
Biopsies of the Oesophagus
In endoscopy, biopsies of the oesophagus taken can be helpful in diagnosing serious problems like cancers or other infections. Though this is in no way related to GERD, other life-threatening diseases can be identified.
Oesophageal Acid Testing
A method called oesophageal acid testing is the most effective way of diagnosing acid reflux condition. People suffering from GERD generally retain more amount of strong acid within their oesophagus. Oesophageal acid testing works on this principle. The tests are conducted to find the duration of retention of acid in the oesophagus. If the length is considerably longer, the patient is certain to have a GERD condition.
Tests on throat
ENT specialists also carry additional tests on the throat. A thorough check-up is done to find the cause of discomfort that can be acid reflux and GERD. Prescribing acid-suppressing medicines is also a part of the diagnosis of GERD. This is done to check if suppressing the acids can provide some relief.
The tests available to diagnose GERD are numerous. All the tests have different levels of accuracy. In some cases, a combination of diagnosis is performed to get more accurate results. This helps to ensure the patient is suffering due to acid reflux and not any other underlying serious disease.