How Do GI Doctors Diagnose and Treat GERD?


Many adults and kids across the nation are living with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is defined as an advanced, severe stage of acid reflux. When the muscle separating the esophagus and stomach (lower esophageal sphincter or LES) does not function correctly, food and stomach acid may surge back up into the esophagus, causing acid reflux. Individuals who have GERD frequently notice distressing symptoms, like heartburn, frequent belching, trouble swallowing, a bitter taste in the mouth, or a lingering dry cough.

If you experience heartburn or other acid reflux symptoms more than two times a week, it is possible that you might have GERD. Chronic reflux may harm the esophagus over time and lead to Barrett's syndrome, hiatal hernia, or other serious illnesses, making it important to consult an expert at Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology for care. Our gastrointestinal (GI) specialists commonly diagnose and treat gastroesophageal reflux disease in Indianapolis, IN patients and can help relieve your acid reflux symptoms.

How is acid reflux disease diagnosed?

Over the course of your visit at Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology, your GI doctors will listen to your symptoms and review your medical history. One or more of the following procedures may be performed to determine a GERD diagnosis.

  • Esophageal manometry: A thin tube will be inserted into one of the nostrils and down the esophagus to examine the function of the lower part of the esophagus (LES).
  • Ambulatory pH testing: A small pH sensor will be placed in the esophagus and will remain in position for a 24-hour period. This catheter will be connected to a small apparatus that tests the amount of stomach acid in the esophageal area.
  • Barium swallow (esophagram): To begin, the patient will drink a chalky, white liquid. A series of x-rays will then be performed. These images will allow our GI doctors to view the upper portion of the esophagus and identify any problems with swallowing or additional gastrointestinal issues that may be occurring.
  • Upper endoscopy: A flexible tube containing a camera will be carefully placed down the upper GI tract to check for any inflamed tissues. A biopsy might also be performed to check for Barrett’s esophagus.

GERD treatment options

The initial phase of addressing acid reflux disease generally involves making new dietary and lifestyle behaviors. You might also find some relief by avoiding the following foods and beverages that trigger heartburn or other symptoms:

  • Heavily seasoned foods
  • Acidic foods
  • Greasy foods
  • Processed snacks
  • Tomato-based products
  • Coffee
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate

In addition, it's critical to maintain an ideal weight, cease using tobacco products, avoid overfilling the stomach, and allow food to fully settle after eating meals before lying horizontally. If additional relief is needed, your GI specialist may suggest taking over-the-counter medications, like antacids or H2 blockers (H2 antagonists). For patients with more severe heartburn, prescription medications may be given. Such options include prescription-strength proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers. Both forms of medicaments restrict the production of stomach acid in order to lower the risk of reflux.

For a number of patients, taking medications and making healthier lifestyle changes is sufficient to effectively treat and manage reflux disease. However, in some situations, a surgical approach may be the best solution. At Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology, our expert GI doctors partner with individuals to identify the most favorable treatment option for each individual situation.

Get treatment for acid reflux disease in Indianapolis, IN

In the majority of cases, sporadic cases of acid reflux are not a concerning occurrence. However, if you often experience a burning sensation in your chest or acid regurgitation, it may point to a chronic GI problem. Our expert gastroenterologists offer services to diagnose and treat GERD in Indianapolis, IN patients. For more on managing acid reflux symptoms, contact Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology to schedule a visit with one of our board-certified gastroenterologists.