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GERD Physical Exam: What is my doctor looking for?

        Health | GERD

Even though your symptom history is an important part of your office visit, your doctor will still conduct a physical exam to assess your symptoms and rule out other health problems.

During the physical exam, your doctor will:

  • assess your vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, and weight
  • listen to your heart and lung
  • look at your ears, nose, and especially your throat and teeth
  • listen to stomach sounds
  • feel your abdomen
  • if necessary, perform an electrocardiogram, or EKG

Depending on the results of your physical exam and symptom history, your doctor may order additional tests.

When might I need further testing?

Your doctor may prescribe a medication to see if your GERD improves. However, he or she may request more testing before prescribing treatment if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • You are older than age 50.
  • You have had symptoms for more than 5 years.
  • You have received or are receiving treatment for GERD and your symptoms are still present.
  • You have the more uncommon symptoms of GERD, such as chronic cough, hoarseness, a lump in your throat, or pain when swallowing.
  • You have alarming symptoms, such as severe chest pain, weight loss, or dark stools, which may indicate bleeding.

What are the additional tests for GERD?

Not only can tests help your doctor determine what may be causing your symptoms, they may indicate how serious your condition is. The most common tests are:

  • upper gastrointestinal, or GI, endoscopy
  • barium swallow
  • Bernstein test, or acid perfusion test
  • 24-hour pH, or stomach acid, monitoring