If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the return of acidic stomach juices, food, and fluids back up into your esophagus can cause heartburn and other pains in your chest and throat. Since longstanding GERD can cause Barrett's esophagus, a precancerous condition, treating it early and efficiently is imperative. At NewYork-Presbyterian Queens, our digestive care experts offer treatments for GERD based on the latest medical and surgical advances. Their goal is to relieve your symptoms, helping you to feel better while reducing your risk of more serious esophageal problems.
Making an Accurate Diagnosis of GERD
The first step toward treating your GERD effectively is confirming what is causing your symptoms, as other conditions can mimic GERD symptoms. Your doctor may initially diagnose GERD by assessing your symptoms and how well you respond to acid-reducing medications. People with more complicated GERD may undergo:
- Upper GI (gastrointestinal) series (also called barium swallow). This test involves swallowing a liquid that can be seen on x-rays as it goes down your esophagus.
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (also called EGD or upper endoscopy). A gastroenterologist uses a fiber optic instrument (scope) to see the inside of your esophagus and possibly take tissue samples of any abnormal tissue (such as Barrett’s esophagus).
- Manometry. A way to test whether the muscles in the esophagus are functioning properly.
- pH monitoring. A method of measuring acid exposure in your esophagus.
Nonsurgical GERD Treatments
In many cases, diet and lifestyle changes are enough to help relieve heartburn. These may include avoidance of typical food triggers, losing weight if you are overweight, avoidance of laying down immediately after eating, and tobacco cessation. If these approaches are not sufficient to relieve your GERD symptoms, your doctor may try a long-acting prescription-strength medication.