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 symptoms can be triggered by certain foods, beverages, and activities. For example, some people suffer heartburn after eating onions, peppermint, chocolate, caffeine, citrus fruits, tomatoes, or high-fat foods. Others suffer heartburn if they lie down after a large meal.
What are your triggers? Find out by keeping a heartburn log.
Each day, jot down your symptoms and the time they occurred. Then note the foods you ate and your specific activities before the symptoms began. Once you...
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Jennifer Robinson, MD on August 26, 2014