Your family physician can give you a diagnosis of acid reflux. If you're not sure reflux is your problem, this is where most people go. You will find that diagnosis is usually done from the symptoms you describe. Heartburn, pressure, pain, burping, breathing problems, it's worse when laying down, etc.
The physician will then most likely treat you with medications that suppress acid production in the stomach.
A follow-up appointment will be made and if you show improvement, diagnosis of acid reflux is confirmed and you are told you have it.
This is called a therapeutic trial and is by far the most common way a diagnosis for acid reflux or GERD is done.
The Problem with This
First of all, I'm not cutting down family doctors. Family doctors are not specialists in any one area but must know something about everything, they see all different kinds of ailments all day long.
Since the therapeutic trial method for diagnosis of acid reflux doesn't include diagnostic tests to actually determine if there are other problems, or even if there is too much acid in your stomach, or even to try a method other than medication, I feel these pills are being handed out without a lot of real thought.
The doctor will probably give you the usual advice, avoid fried foods, chocolate, spicy foods, etc., and maybe give you a pamphlet about acid reflux. Generally this is not bad advice but that and pills will not heal you.
You went to the doctor expecting results and he/she has to deliver on that. They will prescibe pills for you. Taking these pills will surely change something with your digestion, for better or worse.
Whether you could have been helped without medication, or if your problem is being caused by something else like an ulcer, you could show improvement from taking these drugs and will never know. You won't really care either until you develop more problems from taking these meds and not fixing the problem.
This is my big problem with modern medical practices today; No matter what the cause, all we are doing is treating the symptoms, never the underlying cause! It is not all the medical community's fault either. The vast majority of people today just want to pop a pill and not take personal responsibility for their problems.
Test for H. pylori
A good doctor should offer you a simple test for H. pylori bacteria. If no mention is made of one, please ask. If you have it, you can get rid of it and it may be the cause of your whole problem.
This is another way of doing a diagnosis for acid reflux. A tube containing a camera is swallowed so they can look inside you for damage.
Most people with reflux won't show anything. What will show is more serious stuff like ulcers, scarring, inflammation or cancer.
Esophageal Acid Testing
This seems to be a more sure way to do a diagnosis for acid reflux disease. This is a 24 hr. PH test of the levels of acid in the esophagus.
A small tube is passed through the nose and into the esophagus. The end in the esophagus has a sensor that measures acid levels and the other end is connected to a recording device.
These are the common tests used to determine acid reflux disease. There are other tests besides the ones listed above and new testing methods are being developed all the time.
Most people never go beyond the therepeutic testing method.
Okay, you know you have it. If you haven't been to the treatments page, go there now. Leave the diagnosis of acid reflux page for the treatment page.Back to top