What to Know About Your Esophageal pH Balance
If you suspect you have acid reflux, then it’s important to understand esophageal pH monitoring. This is a test that measures the levels of acid in your esophagus, which can determine whether you have acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
The esophagus is a tube of muscle that connects your mouth to your stomach. Normally, the base of your esophagus closes after moving food to your stomach, which prevents acid from returning to your throat.
However, in the case of GERD, the opening of the esophagus, called a stricture, does not close properly or is wider than usual. The resulting backwash from your stomach causes acid reflux, which irritates the esophagus and throat and causes the painful symptoms you may be familiar with.
What Is a Normal Esophageal Acid Level?
A typical acid level in a healthy patient will be around 7. This is a neutral reading on the pH scale, which measures how acidic something is. If your reading is lower (4 or below), then this indicates a higher presence of acid, which means you are more likely to have irritation and painful symptoms.
Determining Esophageal pH Balance
The most common way to determine acidity in your esophagus is through pH monitoring. This test allows your doctor to screen for GERD as well as determine the effectiveness of any treatments you receive for your symptoms.
Monitoring does not affect your ability to eat, sleep, or speak. The test presents minimal discomfort and is done by inserting a catheter into your nostril and gently guiding it into your esophagus.
Another option for monitoring your esophagus acidity levels is by using a battery-operated capsule. The capsule is inserted into your esophagus through the nose, and it records the amount of acid in your esophagus for 2-3 days before detaching and being expelled through your stool.
There are limited and rare side effects to esophageal pH monitoring, so it is a great diagnostic test for anyone experiencing chronic heartburn or other symptoms of GERD.
Schedule an Appointment With Specialists
At the Gramercy Park Digestive Disease Center, we provide state-of-the-art ambulatory services, expert testing, and treatment for patients with a variety of digestive disease symptoms and conditions. If you need to get in touch with a specialist or would like to set up an appointment, please submit a request online or contact the center at 212-979-3237.