Upper Endoscopy for Acid Reflux
If you've ever eaten a lot of fried or greasy food in one sitting, chances are that you're familiar with acid reflux, also known as heartburn. You may not however, be sure how it happens. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows from your stomach into your esophagus. The consequences of this can be painful. Some people taste either regurgitated food or a sour taste at the back of their throat, some also feel a burning sensation in their chest.
The medical name for acid reflux is gastroesophageal reflux, so it's understandable why someone would confuse a simple bout of acid reflux for GERD, which stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Acid reflux has been known to progress to GERD in some cases, which is much more serious. Its symptoms include heartburn, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, wheezing, coughing and chest pain.
What is an Endoscopy?
Often when a person develops chronic or severe reflux their doctor will schedule an upper endoscopy to try and determine the source of their reflux. An upper endoscopy is a procedure that uses a thin scope with a camera and a light at its tip to look at the inside of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. This will allow the doctor to see if there is any obvious source for the problem, such as damaged esophageal tissue. You will receive sedation to minimize discomfort. During the procedure the doctor may also take a small tissue sample for lab testing.
Preparing for the Endoscopy
When you schedule the upper endoscopy make sure to tell the doctor all the medications you're taking. This includes over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements. People with diabetes may need to adjust their insulin dosage the day the procedure is performed, so be sure to ask your doctor for recommendations.
As your stomach needs to be empty for a proper procedure, you shouldn't eat or drink for eight hours before the endoscopy. On some occasions your doctor may recommend that you refrain from eating or drinking for longer; in these cases it's best to follow your doctor's recommendation.
You will be unable to drive afterwards because a sedative will be given to you during the procedure. It's important to arrange for someone to take you home from your endoscopy.
The Day of The Endoscopy
A typical endoscopy appointment will open with the doctor explaining the details of the procedure with you, and answering any questions you may have. During the procedure you will be given a sedative intravenously.
You will then be asked to lie on your side and the doctor will insert the endoscope into your mouth. They will navigate the endoscope down your throat and through your esophagus into your stomach.
An endoscopy typically takes 5 to 10 minutes.
As with most procedures you will be asked to stay in the recovery room for some time so that the clinic staff can address any immediate concerns or complications. While the anesthetic wears off you may feel some soreness or bloating.
The results of the endoscopy will be sent to your primary care provider, though the doctor who performed the procedure will discuss the initial results with you. Any samples will take several days to process.
After this your doctor will determine what steps must be taken to treat your acid reflux or GERD.