Your description of your symptoms may be all a doctor requires to diagnose heartburn, but sometimes additional testing may be necessary. The esophagus can be viewed through an endoscope, a long, thin, flexible tube inserted through the mouth, or by X-ray.
Sometimes, your doctor may recommend a 24-hour esophageal pH probe study, especially if you have unusual symptoms, such as throat or chest or abdominal pain, coughing, or asthma-like symptoms. In this test, a long, narrow, flexible tube is inserted through the nose down into the esophagus and a probe is left there for 24 hours. This probe detects acid levels to determine if it correlates with your symptoms. A newer technique (called Bravo) measures 24-hour acid; it is done using wireless pH sensors, which eliminates the need for a tube insertion. To detect if your heart is the cause of your symptoms, an electrocardiogram (ECG), a recording of the heart's electrical activity, may be taken.
Heartburn can often be prevented. Follow these tips to help prevent heartburn.
Maintain a reasonable weight
Avoid any foods and beverages that worsen your symptoms
Wear clothes that are loose around the waist
Eat smaller meals and try not to overeat
Get enough sleep and minimize stress
Wait three hours after eating before you lie down
Elevate the head of your bed six to eight inches
National Heartburn Alliance.
WebMD Medical Reference: "Newly Diagnosed: Heartburn."
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