GERD Home > GERD Diagnosis

Some tests used to help make a GERD diagnosis include an upper GI series (a special set of x-rays), an upper endoscopy, and esophageal manometry. However, your healthcare provider can often diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease just by having you describe your symptoms. A physical exam may also assist your doctor in making a GERD diagnosis.

GERD Diagnosis: An Introduction

Many people don't tell their doctor about their heartburn because they're afraid of the tests he or she might perform. However, it's important to know that your healthcare provider can often diagnose GERD just by having you describe your symptoms. As part of making a GERD diagnosis, your healthcare provider will also perform a physical exam to look for signs or symptoms of GERD.
If your doctor thinks you have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), you may be asked to change your diet or some parts of your lifestyle, and/or to take GERD medication for a period of time to confirm the diagnosis.

Tests Used to Make a GERD Diagnosis

In some cases, tests may be needed to confirm a GERD diagnosis or identify the cause of symptoms. These are often done if:
  • Your symptoms aren't relieved by medications, dietary changes, or lifestyle changes
  • You already have symptoms that suggest your esophagus has been damaged
  • Your doctor thinks your symptoms may be caused by another health problem.
Some tests used to help make a GERD diagnosis or to diagnose other problems in the stomach or esophagus include:
  • Upper GI series
  • Upper endoscopy
  • Esophageal manometry
  • Esophageal pH test.
Upper GI Series
An upper GI series, also called a barium swallow, is a special set of x-rays that are taken after you drink a thick liquid containing barium, which coats the inside of your esophagus and stomach. These x-rays can help your doctor see damage to the lining of your esophagus, including narrowing (called a stricture), a hiatal hernia, or ulcers. Because the symptoms of stomach ulcers can be similar to those of esophageal ulcers, this x-ray set helps your doctor to determine which type of ulcer, if any, is causing your symptoms.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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