Your doctor or specialist will likely make a diagnosis based on your answers to questions, a physical exam, and one or more tests. These tests may include:
For this test, you drink a solution containing a compound called barium or take a pill coated with barium. Barium coats the lining of the esophagus and stomach and it makes the organs visible. These images can help identify narrowing of the esophagus, other structural changes, a hiatal hernia, tumors or other abnormalities that could be causing symptoms.
Doctors guide a long, thin tube equipped with a tiny camera (endoscope) down your throat and into the esophagus. Using this instrument, your doctor can look for any unusual appearance of the esophagus and remove small tissue samples for testing. The esophagus may look different depending on the cause of inflammation, such as drug-induced or reflux esophagitis. You'll be lightly sedated during this test.
Small tissue samples removed (biopsy) during an endoscopic exam are sent to the lab for testing. Depending on the suspected cause of the disorder, tests may be used to:
Sept. 13, 2014
- Diagnose a bacterial, viral or fungal infection
- Determine the concentration of allergy-related white blood cells (eosinophils)
- Identify abnormal cells that would indicate esophageal cancer or precancerous changes
- Bleeding in the digestive tract. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/DDISEASES/pubs/bleeding/. Accessed July 11, 2014.
- Heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux (GER), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd/index.aspx. Accessed July 10, 2014.
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- Safe use of complementary health products and practices. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/safety. Accessed Jan. 5, 2014.
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- Eosinophilic esophagitis. American Academy of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/related-conditions/eosinophilic-esophagitis.aspx. Accessed July 17, 2014.
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