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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

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How to tell if you have GERD?

(Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)

Gastrointestinal (GI) health is an important aspect of overall well-being, yet it's often overlooked until symptoms become hard to ignore. Among the common GI issues is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), conditions that affect many people at some point in their lives. Understanding the nuances between them, how they can be diagnosed, and identifying their causes is essential in managing symptoms and improving quality of life.

 

What is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?

 

GERD is a chronic, more severe form of acid reflux. GERD is a condition that develops when the reflux of stomach contents causes troublesome symptoms and/or complications. GERD can lead to more serious health issues, including esophagitis, Barrett's esophagus, and even esophageal cancer if left untreated.

 

How can I tell apart Acid Reflux from GERD?

 

It is common to mistake GERD for a case of acid reflux, which also affects many people. While the symptoms of acid reflux and GERD can overlap, the frequency and severity of these symptoms often help distinguish between the two conditions. For both conditions, you may experience heartburn (a burning sensation in the chest, usually after eating which may worsen at night), regurgitation (a sour or bitter-tasting acid backing up into your throat or mouth), difficulty swallowing, chronic cough, laryngitis and disrupted sleep.

 

Symptoms of GERD are similar but occur more frequently and may also include worsening symptoms that affect your quality of life, such as severe chest pain, choking, or significant weight loss.

 

How to diagnose GERD?

 

Diagnosing these conditions typically starts with a review of your medical history and a physical examination. Further tests may be needed to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions. These tests can include:

 

  • Gastroscopy: A doctor uses a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera to examine the inside of your esophagus and stomach.

 

  • pH monitoring: This test measures the acidity in your esophagus and can help determine if your symptoms are related to acid reflux.

 

  • Esophageal manometry: This test measures the rhythmic muscle contractions in your esophagus when you swallow.

 

  • Barium swallow: After drinking a barium solution, X-ray imaging is used to visualize your digestive tract.

 

How is gastroscopy helpful for diagnosis of GERD?

 

Gastroscopy is a highly valuable diagnostic tool in the management of gastrointestinal health, offering direct insights into the state of the upper digestive tract.

 

This procedure, involving the insertion of a thin, flexible tube equipped with a camera (endoscope) through the mouth and into the stomach and duodenum, allows us to visually inspect these areas for abnormalities such as ulcers, inflammation, tumors, and infections. It can also be used to perform biopsies, which are crucial for diagnosing conditions like celiac disease, GERD, and various types of cancer.

 

By allowing direct visualization of the mucosal lining, gastroscopy can help identify the presence and severity of inflammation, ulcers, or other abnormalities that might indicate chronic GERD rather than occasional acid reflux. This procedure can also detect complications arising from GERD, such as Barrett's esophagus, a condition where the esophageal lining changes due to prolonged exposure to stomach acid. Furthermore, biopsies can be taken during a gastroscopy to test for H. pylori infection, a known contributor to ulcers and potential exacerbator of GERD symptoms.

 

Beyond its diagnostic capabilities, gastroscopy can be therapeutic, enabling the removal of foreign objects, treating bleeding lesions, and dilating narrowed areas. By providing a clear and immediate assessment, gastroscopy plays a critical role in the early detection and treatment of gastrointestinal issues, thereby improving patient outcomes and quality of life.

 

What could be the causes of GERD?

 

The causes of GERD are multifaceted and can include lifestyle factors, dietary choices, obesity, smoking, certain medications, and other medical conditions like hiatal hernia. Identifying the specific triggers for your symptoms is helpful. Keeping a symptom diary, noting what you eat and drink and when your symptoms occur, can be telling.

 

Dietary modifications, such as avoiding foods that trigger your symptoms, eating smaller meals, and not lying down immediately after eating, can significantly alleviate symptoms. Lifestyle changes, like losing weight, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol intake, can also have a profound impact.

 

Medications like antacids, H2 blockers, or proton pump inhibitors may be recommended for symptom management. For more severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

 

Conclusion

 

If you suspect you're suffering from GERD, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. Understanding the causes and differences between these conditions is the first step towards managing your symptoms and improving your gastrointestinal health.

 

While GERD can be uncomfortable and disruptive, with the right approach, they can be effectively managed, allowing you to lead a healthier, more comfortable life. Reach out to us at Somerset Imaging Centre for consultation if you want to find out how gastroscopy could help diagnose your condition.

 

When would you need a Endoscopy?

If you’re suffering from these common digestive symptoms, please seek further assessment: 

  • Heartburn

  • Acid reflux 

  • Persistent vomiting and nausea 

  • Blood in stools

  • Persistent diarrhea or constipation

The above are several situations where seeing a gastroenterologist for assessment and a gastroscopy or colonoscopy would help with early detection or diagnosis of digestive diseases. 
 
Endoscopy can detect problems with: 
 

  • Oesophagus and stomach

  • Duodenum, jenunum and ileum 

  • Colon and rectum

Our gastroenterologist will do a comprehensive assessment of your condition, symptoms, and concerns to recommend suitable screening and tests to give you a peace of mind. 

Patient FAQs about Gastroscopy Singapore

How can I prepare before the gastroscopy / colonoscopy? 

  • Fasting at least 6 hours before procedure.  

  • In order to have a good assessment of the large intestine, it is important to follow the instructions provided for bowel preparation properly.

 
What complications can occur during the screening? 

  • Gastroscopy and Colonoscopy are generally safe procedures. All the risk of complications are less than 1%. 

 
What if the screening detects abnormalities with my digestive tract? 

  • If the screening detects abnormalities with digestive tract, our doctor might order some others test to confirm the problems and give treatment accordingly.  

 
How long will the screening take? 

  • The screening for Gastroscopy normally will take 10 – 15 minutes.

  • The screening for Colonoscopy normally will take 30 – 45 minutes.

Gastroscopy Screening Options in Singapore

Standard 

  • Gastroscopy and/or Colonoscopy  

  • Gastroclear miRNA markers 

 
Executive 

  • Gastroscopy and/or Colonoscopy  

  • Gastroclear miRNA markers 

  • Either of the following depending on the clinical needs 

  1. Ultrasound abdomen and/or Ultrasound Pelvis 

  2. MRI Abdomen and/or MRI Pelvis 

  3. CT Abdomen and/or CT Pelvis 

  • MRI Liver Fat Quantification 

Check out our Screening packages including Gastroscopy Singapore

Gastroscopy Singapore

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