Are My Symptoms Acid Reflux?

At Texarkana Gastroenterology Consultants, we see many patients with symptoms of acid reflux.  The incidence of this problem in the U.S. can be as high as 22% of the population.  Most commonly, symptoms are fairly obvious and include regurgitation, heartburn or swallowing problems.  Less obvious symptoms could include chronic cough, asthma symptoms, or chest pain.  Some patients can have chest pain severe enough that it mimics symptoms of a heart attack.  Some patients first go to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor due to ongoing throat problems such as laryngitis, or a persistent sensation of a lump in the throat.

When symptoms clearly point to reflux, we usually begin acid reducing therapy to control symptoms.  This could include over the counter treatment or prescription therapy depending on the severity of the problem.  Dietary measures, weight loss, elevation of the head of the bed are other commonly employed measures.  Most people have a good response to these treatments and further tests may not be required.

In those cases where symptoms are not so clear, or when reflux medications do not help, further testing is usually needed.  While an x-ray of the esophagus and stomach (upper GI) may provide information, it can be fairly unreliable.  We most commonly start with an endoscopy of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine (EGD) to directly visualize the area.  This is a quick and painless procedure done with sedation. 

With more recent developments in our field we can now further define the problem in challenging situations where symptoms are hard to control or an anti-reflux surgery is being considered.  We have the ability to precisely define the reflux problem by actually measuring the degree of reflux present with an acid monitor placed in the esophagus.  This device is able to record how much reflux is present over a 48 hour period.  We attach this small device to the esophagus while doing an upper endoscopy in a sedated patient, the procedure takes only about 5 minutes to perform.  The device transmits the information wirelessly to a small receiver over 48 hours.  We then download the data for computer analysis to define the severity of the reflux.  The small device detaches from the esophagus and passes harmlessly through the intestines.

Surprisingly, sometimes we find minimal or no reflux, so we redirect our therapy to other conditions.  On those occasions where reflux is confirmed, we may use higher doses of reflux medications or consider a reflux operation. 

At The Endoscopy Center of Texarkana and Texarkana Gastroenterology Consultants we have the ability to perform these advanced studies along with other diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy procedures.  We are dedicated to high quality gastrointestinal endoscopy in a comfortable and efficient environment.  Our staff and physicians are ready and able to assist you with difficult reflux problems or other intestinal problems. 

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