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How Is Acid Reflux Diagnosed?


Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is relatively easy to diagnose. When you have a case of uncomplicated acid reflux, it can be diagnosed by telling your doctor your symptoms. From there, your doctor can determine whether or not you have GERD. The common symptoms of acid reflux are nausea, heartburn and regurgitation.

Other Kinds of Diagnosis for Acid Reflux

Doctors also use other methods to diagnose the presence and strength of acid reflux as well as examine the affected organs, specifically the esophagus and the stomach. Here are the other methods doctors use to diagnose acid reflux:

Barium Swallow

In the barium swallow test, the patient drinks a barium preparation in order to make the esophageal lining visible when viewed under an x-ray. After which a series of x-ray tests are undertaken by the patient, targeting the esophagus in particular in order to determine whether or not fluid which enters the stomach, goes back into the esophagus. The barium swallow test is recommended when one of the symptoms that the patient is experiencing is difficulty in swallowing or dysphagia.

Esophageal Gastroduodenoscopy (EGD) or Upper Endoscopy

An upper endoscopy procedure involves the insertion of a small and flexible camera into the patient’s throat specifically to check if the patient has lesions that are not visible through a barium swallow procedure. An upper endoscopy test is recommended by doctors when there is a suspicion that the patient has gastroesophageal reflux disease that has already progressed to cancer.

Esophageal Manometry

An esophageal manometry is a test that measures whether or not the pressure in the sphincter muscle is high or low. In order to measure this, a catheter is inserted into the esophagus and stomach through the nose. Following this, the patient will drink water where the catheter will be withdrawn while the peristaltic activity of the esophagus and pressure of the sphincter will be measured. Patients who are afflicted with acid reflux generally have low pressure in the sphincter muscle.

Ambulatory PH Test

The ambulatory PH test measures the acidity of the reflux in the esophagus to show exactly how strong the acid reflux is.



“Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – Heartburn, Stomach Acid, Antacids – Life Extension Health Concern.” Life Extension. Web. 16 Jan. 2012. .

Marks MD, Jay W., and Charles Patrick Davis MD PhD. “GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Acid Reflux, Heartburn) Causes, Symptoms, Diet, Diagnosis, and Treatment.” MedicineNet. Web. 16 Jan. 2012. .

Encyclopedia Britannica
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

The Dr. Oz Show
Treating Acid Reflux Disease with Your Diet

Mayo Clinic

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia
Acid Reflux Disease


Glossary of Terms

Dysphagia: the medical term for difficulty swallowing, or the feeling that food is “sticking” in your throat or chest.
University of Maryland Medical Center

Esophagus: a muscular tube connecting the throat (pharynx) with the stomach.

GERD: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease that occurs when stomach acid or, occasionally, bile flows back (refluxes) into your food pipe (esophagus). The backwash of acid irritates the lining of your esophagus and causes GERD signs and symptoms.
Mayo Clinic

Reflux: to cause to flow back or return.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Regurgitation: the casting up of incompletely digested food.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary 

Sphincter Muscle: any of the ringlike muscles surrounding and able to contract or close a bodily passage or opening.


Expert Opinion

“I usually recommend patients take note of their progress during diet modification as it can be a valuable tool in identifying that foods act as triggers causing the over-production of acid and kick-starting acid reflux symptoms. Once you know and understand which foods trigger your acid reflux, you can begin to slowly, and in small portions, add back in certain foods that you love.”

Jonathan E. Aviv, MD, FACS Treating Acid Reflux with Your Diet   The Dr. Oz Show

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