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Talking to Your Healthcare Provider About Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)/Heartburn

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You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about your personal risk factors and/or experience with GERD or heartburn. By talking openly and regularly with your healthcare provider, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your healthcare provider:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider

About GERD

  • Could my symptoms be caused by GERD?
  • Do I need to be treated for GERD?

About Your Risk of Developing GERD

  • Am I at increased risk for GERD?
  • Are there specific foods I should avoid to lower my risk of developing GERD?
  • Does being overweight increase my risk of developing GERD?
  • Can smoking increase my risk of GERD?

About Treatment Options

  • Are medications sufficient to control GERD?
    • What side effects are associated with these drugs?
    • Will they interact with other medications, over the counter products, or dietary and herbal supplements I am taking?
  • At what point should I consider surgery to control GERD?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • What lifestyle changes can I make to help manage or control GERD?
  • Do I have to eat a completely bland diet to control GERD?
  • Are there any restrictions on exercise?
  • Can you give me some advice for quitting smoking?

About Outlook

  • Are there complications that I should be concerned about?
  • How can I avoid these complications?

References:

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 29, 2013. Accessed April 30, 2013.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal_disorders/esophageal_and_swallowing_disorders/gastroesophageal_reflux_disease_gerd.html. Updated May 2012. Accessed April 30, 2013.

Heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux (GER), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd. Updated April 30, 2012. Accessed April 30, 2013.

Katz PO, Gerson LB, et al. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2013;108(3):302-328.

Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/healthcare-management/working-with-your-doctor/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor.html. Updated November 2010. Accessed April 29, 2013

Understanding heartburn and reflux disease. American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at: http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/digestive-conditions/heartburn-gerd. Published April 25, 2010. Accessed April 30, 2010.



Last reviewed March 2014 by Daus Mahnke, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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