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Alternatives for a Stomach Acid Test

Updated March 23, 2017

The traditional stomach acid test involves inserting a thin, long tube down the oesophagus and into the stomach, where it will remove the liquid contents of the stomach. The fluid will then be analysed to determine the quantity and acidity of the stomach's contents. Today, a variety of alternative stomach acid tests are also available to test the stomach's acidity.

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Heidelberg Capsule Test

The Heidelberg capsule test has become a popular test for measuring stomach acid. This test uses radiotelemetry to measure the stomach's ability to produce gastric acid. It involves a small plastic capsule that contains electronic monitoring equipment, consisting of a small pH meter and a radio transmitter. After drinking a mixture of water and bicarbonate of soda, the patient will swallow the capsule. The monitoring equipment inside the capsule will then measure the pH of the stomach, small intestine and large intestine. The monitoring equipment in the capsule sends a signal to an antenna that is worn on the patient's stomach. For proper testing, the patient will recline for 30 to 40 minutes as the fluctuations in the stomach's pH are plotted onto a graph. After the test, the patient can either have the capsule removed by an attached string or pass the capsule with a bowel movement.

Gastro String Test

The gastro string test is similar to the Heidelberg test, but much less advanced and expensive. This stomach acid test involves swallowing a small gel capsule that contains a pH test string. The patient will hold on to one end of the string and then swallow the capsule. When the capsule reaches the stomach, the stomach's acid will dissolve the capsule and the string inside will unfold. After about 15 minutes, the string can be slowly pulled out of the stomach through the mouth. The string will then be compared to a pH colour key.

Self Test

You can also easily test at home with a simple and inexpensive stomach acid test. For this test, you will need to mix together a solution of one-quarter teaspoon of baking soda and eight ounces of cold water. The solution should be consumed soon after waking up, before any other foods or drinks are consumed. After drinking the solution, measure the amount of time it takes before you belch. If you belch within two to three minutes, your stomach is producing adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid for digestion. If you belch sooner than this or if you continue to belch, you are likely producing too much stomach acid. And if you do not belch within five minutes, your stomach is not producing enough acid.

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