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Esophageal pH Monitoring

 Esophageal pH monitoring

What is esophageal pH monitoring?
Esophageal pH monitoring is performed if you’re having certain problems with your upper gastrointestinal tract. It helps your doctor determine if stomach acid is entering your esophagus.
The esophagus is the hollow muscular tube that connects your throat to your stomach. It’s lined with a soft mucous membrane, which protects the esophagus from damage.
The esophagus plays a very simple role in the digestive process. It conveys food from your throat to your stomach. After the mouth and teeth, this is the second portion of your upper digestive system.
It’s frequently exposed to sharp or abrasive food items, such as:
  • nuts
  • tough plant leaves
  • potato chips

Why might you need this test?

You doctor may recommend this test if you have symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The test measures how often and for what length of time stomach acid enters your esophagus.
GERD is a chronic disease of the digestive system caused by the backward movement of stomach acid containing substances up from your stomach. This causes the following symptoms:
  • Heartburn: acid indigestion symptoms in your stomach, esophagus, chest, or upper abdomen
  • Regurgitation: acid (and sometimes food) back-flowing into your esophagus, throat, or mouth
  • Dyspepsia: burping, bloating, or nausea after eating
Many people experience these symptoms from time to time. Your doctor may suspect you have GERD if you’re experiencing these symptoms more than once or twice each week.
Your doctor may also want to test you if your symptoms are so severe that they interfere with your daily life. This test may be performed in combination with an Endoscopy of your upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
During an upper GI endoscopy, your doctor inserts a flexible fiberoptic scope with an attached camera into your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum of the small intestine to look for signs of GERD.
In infants, esophageal pH monitoring can also be used to check for stomach acid reflux issues.

Preparation for the test

You doctor will ask you to avoid eating or drinking for at least 4 to 6 hours before the test. You’ll also need to stop smoking during this time. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you need help quitting. They can refer you to local resources, such as a smoking cessation program, or suggest cessation aids.
Some prescription medications can affect the results of testing. Your doctor may tell you to stop taking them for up to 1 week or more before the test. Some drugs that can affect the test results include:
  • anticholinergics (such as certain drugs used in the treatment of spastic GI tract or urine incontinence disorders)
  • certain antacids
  • alcohol
  • cholinergics (drugs that produce the similar effects as the parasympathetic nervous system)
  • corticosteroids (such as prednisone)
  • H2 blockers (drugs used to block histamine effects on your stomach, such as Pepcid or Tagamet)
  • proton pump inhibitors (drugs used to reduce gastric acid production)
Only stop taking medications if your doctor advises you to do so.