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Esophageal Testing For Acid

Marc David Makhani, MD -  - Gastroenterologist

LA Digestive Health and Wellness

Marc David Makhani, MD

Gastroenterologist located in Cedars-Sinai Medical Towers, Los Angeles, CA

Dr. Makhani helps patients to identify the root cause of acid reflux and heartburn symptoms with esophageal testing for acid from his office conveniently located at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Towers in the Beverly Hills area of Los Angeles, CA.

Esophageal Testing for Acid Q & A

What is GERD and Acid Reflux?

GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is a chronic diagnosis of acid reflux symptoms. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid comes up into the esophagus, causing a burn in the chest. Patients with GERD most often experience acid reflux symptoms at least twice a week.

What is esophageal testing for acid?

This is an outpatient procedure that monitors the amount of acid in the esophagus over a 24-hour period. The procedure helps to identify the cause of symptoms such as heartburn, chest pain, chronic cough, or other throat symptoms, potentially confirming a diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The test is also performed to check the effectiveness of treatments for heartburn or reflux.

How is the pH level monitored?

The esophageal testing for acid or esophageal pH test can either be carried out with a small probe being placed into the esophagus through the patient’s nostril and plugged into a small monitor worn by the patient or with a wireless capsule being placed in the esophagus which wirelessly transmits information to a receiver worn by the patient. Both devices record the occurrence of symptoms, the times that the patient eats or lies down, and the pH of the esophagus. The instrument constantly monitors the pH of the esophagus and the patient presses a button on the external device to record when symptoms are felt when he or she eats or drinks, as well as any periods of activity or rest. The doctor will advise the patient to avoid food and drink for four to six hours before the monitoring device is placed.

What should I do during the 24-hour monitoring period?

Patients should maintain as normal as a routine as possible, so an accurate measure of everyday activities and acid levels can be recorded. This means maintaining normal activities, although it is recommended to avoid showering or bathing as the external monitors can not get wet. It is also important to eat normal foods at regular times, in fact, it may be suggested to eat the foods associated with increased symptoms.  Unless the patient has a regular nap during the day, it is important to stay upright throughout the day. The doctor will provide advice on whether or not to take any medications during the monitoring period.  

What is the normal pH level in your esophagus?

The normal pH of the esophagus is neutral at 7. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is associated with acidity pH level of 4.