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MATTERS OF FACT

Heart (or Rather, Tummy) Trouble

"Diagnosing the problem of acid reflux"
By: Jose Maria M. Villarama IIHeart (or Rather, Tummy) Trouble

To find out if the heartburn problem is just a one-time affair, is severe, or is caused by another condition, several tests can be run by clinicians to determine the reason for heartburn. Among these are:

●  Esophageal manometry. If the doctor does not see any damage to the esophagus and the patient continues to complain about pain, this test may be done to check the tightness or integrity of the esophageal or cardiac sphincter muscles.

●  Gastrointestinal endoscopy. Also known as esophagogastroduodenoscopy, it is used to probe the esophagus, stomach, and the small intestine; the test works by inserting a tube with a camera at the tip through the mouth to see how much damage has been done to the esophagus by stomach acid. The doctor will also be able to see if there are infections, lesions, or ulcers in the organs. Once the state of the esophagus is determined, the doctor can now order treatments or address problems such as bleeding or difficulty in swallowing.

●  pH monitoring. This is done to monitor the strength of stomach acid. In chemistry, 1 to 6.99 is considered acidic, 7 is neutral, while 8 and up is basic or alkaline. In this test, a thin tube is passed through the nose down to the esophagus. For the next 24 hours, the test will measure the amount of acid reflux that occurs while one goes through the usual daily routine, including eating. A more advanced test utilizes a small capsule that is attached to the esophagus and which transmits radio waves that measure acidity to a receiver attached to the body.

●  Cardiac tests. These are done if the specialist cannot trace the source of heartburn or to rule out heart attack as the cause of the pain.

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