For most people, testing is unnecessary. Tests will only be needed if:
- the diagnosis is unclear
- symptoms persist or do not respond to treatment
- other diagnoses seem possible
- complications may be present
- serious symptoms such as difficult or painful swallowing or vomiting blood or unexplained weight loss are present.
The most common tests for GORD are endoscopy, 24-hour ambulatory oesophageal pH monitoring and barium swallow.
An endoscopy is a procedure where the inside of your body is directly examined using an endoscope. This is a long, thin flexible tube that has a light source and video camera at one end so that images of the inside of your body can be sent to an external monitor.
If your doctor suspects you have GORD, the endoscope will be inserted into your mouth and down your throat. You will be given some form of sedation when you have an endoscopy to help you relax.
24-hour ambulatory oesophageal pH monitoring
This test measures the pH levels in your oesophagus - pH is a unit of measurement used in chemistry and describes how acidic a solution is. The lower the pH level, the more acidic the solution is. If test results indicate a sudden rise in your pH levels after eating, a diagnosis of GORD can usually be made.
During the test, a small tube containing a probe will be passed through your nose to the back of your oesophagus. This is not painful but can feel a little uncomfortable. The probe is connected to a small portable recording device that you wear around your wrist. You will be asked to press a button on the recorder every time you become aware of your symptoms. You will also be asked to complete a diary sheet to record when you have symptoms associated with eating.
If you have difficulty swallowing (also known as dysphagia), you may be referred for a barium swallow.
As part of this test, you will be asked to drink some barium solution. Barium is a non-toxic chemical that is widely used in tests because it shows up clearly on an X-ray. Once the barium moves down into your upper digestive system, a series of X-rays will be taken to identify any problems.
Last reviewed: November 2016