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by Alan R

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

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with GERD or heartburn. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
  • 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.
  • Could my symptoms be caused by GERD?
  • What are other potential causes of my symptoms?
  • Am I at increased risk for GERD?
  • Are there steps I can take to decrease my risk of developing GERD?
  • 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?
    • How long will I have to take medications?
  • If symptoms are managed, does this mean GERD is gone?
  • At what point should I consider surgery to 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?
  • Are there complications that I should be concerned about?
  • How do I know if I have developed any of these complications?
  • How can I avoid these complications?

References

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 19, 2015. Accessed March 2, 2015.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The Merck Manual Professional Edition. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal%5Fdisorders/esophageal%5Fand%5Fswallowing%5Fdisorders/gastroesophageal%5Freflux%5Fdisease%5Fgerd.html. Updated May 2014. Accessed March 2, 2015.
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 May 2014. Accessed March 2, 2015.

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