How is acid reflux disease diagnosed?
The initial diagnosis of acid reflux disease, heartburn or GORD (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease) will be based on a patient's symptoms.
If acid reflux symptoms are experienced two or more times a week, or if medication taken to manage the symptoms or lifestyle changes don't bring lasting relief, seek medical advice.
A doctor may arrange tests to confirm a diagnosis and check for other problems. You may need one or more tests such as these:
- Barium swallow can check for ulcers or a narrowing of the oesophagus. You first swallow a solution to help structures show up on an X-ray. Barium is a non-toxic chemical. No food or drink should be taken for at least six hours before the test.
- Manometry can check the function of the oesophagus and lower oesophageal sphincter or LOS by testing the pressure within these structures caused by the contraction of their muscles.
- 24 hour pH monitoring can check for acid in your oesophagus. The doctor inserts a device into your oesophagus and leaves it in place for one to two days to measure the amount of acid in your oesophagus. The probe is connected to a small recording device worn around the waist. A record of what was eaten, and when, will also need to be completed during the measurement period. GORD medication will need to be stopped a week before the test to avoid it affecting the acid measurements.
- Endoscopycan check for problems in your oesophagus or stomach. This test involves inserting a long, flexible lighted tube containing a camera down your throat. First the doctor will spray the back of your throat with anaesthetic and give you a sedative to make you more comfortable. Endoscopy can check for stomach acid damage to the surface of the oesophagus and can help rule out other conditions, such as stomach ulcers or stomach cancer.
- A biopsymay be taken during endoscopy to check samples of tissue under a microscope for infection or other abnormalities.