While we are aware of the typical symptoms of acid reflux disease, a doctor may conduct various diagnostic tests to rule out any organic cause of your acid reflux problem. Typically, if the problem persists after lifestyle and diet changes, the doctor may suggest one of the several procedures enumerated below to find out the actual cause.
These procedures are basically invasive procedures, in that they involve inserting tubes into your food pipe, and observing, obtaining and analyzing your data over a fixed period of time.
The 24-Hour Esophageal Ph Test, and the 48-Hour Bravo Esophageal pH test, recommended by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation involve the insertion of a tube through your nose that is pushed way down so as to be near the Esophageal Sphincter muscle, the kingpin in this Acid Reflux Saga.
A thin, small tube with an acid sensing device on the tip is gently passed through your nose, down the esophagus ("food tube"), and positioned about 2 inches above the lower esophageal sphincter. The tube is attached to the side of your face with clear tape. The end of the tube exiting from your nose is attached to a portable recorder that is worn on your belt or over your shoulder. The recorder has several buttons on it that you press to mark certain observations.
What happens is that you follow certain food and medication restrictions from a week prior to your test. During the 24-hour test, you avoid showers; record your mealtimes, and meal contents, as well as your rest periods, when you lie down. There are certain buttons to be pressed on the recorder mechanism, in case you have certain symptoms, After 24 hours, the nurse removes this contraption, and the information is downloaded onto a computer that allows the doctor to review the situation and plan your treatment.
The Esophageal Manometry Test is less traumatic, time wise, and consists of inserting a tiny, pressure-sensitive tube through your nose — or sometimes your mouth , into your esophagus. There, it measures the effects of muscle contractions as you swallow.
This tells the doctor about how well your muscles involved in the digestion process, function.
Endoscopies, X-rays, are all procedures that minutely find out if you have an existing obstruction that hampers the proper digestion of food, by observing your insides through a lighted scope.
Once the doctor has confirmed that there is no physiological cause of your Acid Reflux, like narrowing of the food pipe, scarring of the food pipe, or an undefined suspicious growth where one should not exist, it is time to start thinking of medications and long-term lifestyle issues.