PH Testing

Centers for Digestive Health

Gastroenterology located in Highland, IN, Merrillville, IN, Gary, IN, DeMotte, IN, Crown Point, IN & Dyer, IN

If you have chronic acid reflux, an endoscopy procedure can often be an efficient way of assessing the health of your esophagus. However, if your endoscopy is clear, the experienced gastroenterologists at the Centers for Digestive Health can perform pH testing to provide detailed information about acid levels in your esophagus. The practice has offices in Highland, Merrillville, Gary, Dyer, Crown Point, and DeMotte, Indiana, where the team offers advanced methods of pH testing. Find out more by calling the Centers for Digestive Health or booking an appointment online.

pH Testing Q&A

What is pH testing?

A pH test measures the flow of stomach acid into your esophagus when you have symptoms of acid reflux. The test assesses how much acid enters your esophagus, how long it stays there, and how well it clears afterward.

Your provider at the Centers for Digestive Health might suggest you undergo pH testing if you've had an upper GI endoscopy with no signs of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease or chronic acid reflux). You might also need a pH test if you have some of the more uncommon GERD symptoms, such as hoarseness, chest pain, or asthma.

What does pH testing involve?

To prepare for your pH test, you need to stop taking acid reflux medications like antacids or proton pump inhibitors, and you shouldn't eat for 4-6 hours before your procedure. If you're having an endoscopy as well as a pH test, your provider places an intravenous (IV) line in your arm that delivers a sedative and sprays an anesthetic on the back of your throat.

There are two ways of performing pH testing:

Tubular probe

Your provider inserts a probe on a flexible tube through your nose and down your esophagus to just above the entrance to your stomach, then attaches a pH monitoring device to the esophageal lining. The tube stays in for 24 hours, during which time you continue with normal activities.

Capsule pH testing

Using an endoscope, your provider attaches a capsule-shaped transmitting device to the lining of your esophagus. The device wirelessly records information about your symptoms and sends it to a portable receiver that you wear on your belt. During the test, which lasts for 24-48 hours, you should eat regular meals and resume your normal activities.

Both these systems record any acid reflux issues as well as other symptoms, such as wheezing and coughing.

What happens after pH testing?

If pH testing shows an increase in acid levels in your esophagus, your provider can discuss how best to treat the problem. They may recommend lifestyle changes and weight management, and medications to relieve symptoms and help prevent complications.

In some cases, they may need to run other tests to determine whether the increased acid is due to GERD, esophagitis, scarring or fibrosis, or Barrett's esophagus, if it's likely to change the treatment you need. If your pH test records normal pH levels, you may need further tests to find the cause of your symptoms. 

To find out more about pH testing and how it can benefit you, call the Centers for Digestive Health or book an appointment online today.