If you think you have GERD, you're likely to start by first seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. Your doctor may recommend you see a doctor who specializes in treating digestive diseases (gastroenterologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well-prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Consider taking a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to absorb all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For gastroesophageal reflux disease, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Do I need an endoscopy?
- Is my GERD likely temporary or chronic?
- What is the best course of action?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them while managing GERD?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing for me?
- Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- Should I schedule a follow-up visit?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment anytime you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may allow more time later to cover points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
- What are your symptoms?
- When did you first notice these symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Do your symptoms wake you up at night?
- Are your symptoms worse after meals or after lying down?
- Do your symptoms include nausea or vomiting?
- Does food or sour material ever come up in the back of your throat?
- Do you have difficulty swallowing?
- Have you gained or lost weight?
- Do you experience nausea and vomiting?
What you can do in the meantime
Try lifestyle changes to control your symptoms until you see your doctor. For instance, avoid foods that trigger your heartburn and avoid eating at least two hours before bedtime.
Jul. 31, 2014
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2014: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 2, 2014.
- Kahrilas PJ. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 1, 2014.
- Kahrilas PJ. Medical management of gastroesophageal reflux disease in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 1, 2014.
- Schwaitzberg SD. Surgical management of gastroesophageal reflux in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Jan. 5, 2014.
- Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 2, 2014.
- Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 2, 2014.
- Kahrilas PJ. Complications of gastroesophageal reflux in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 5, 2014.
- Katz PO, et al. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of gastroesophageal reflux disease. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2013;108:308.
- AskMayoExpert. Gastroesophageal reflux disease. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2013.
- Weight management. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/recommen.htm. Accessed Jan. 2, 2014.
- Picco MF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. April 24, 2011.
- Golden AK. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 23, 2013.
- Fass R. Alternative therapeutic approaches to chronic proton pump inhibitor. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2012;10:338.
- Patrick L. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): A review of conventional and alternative treatments. Alternative Medicine Review. 2011;16:116.
- Safe use of complementary health products and practices. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/safety. Accessed Jan. 5, 2014.
- Lipham JC, et al. The LINX® reflux management system: Confirmed safety and efficacy now at 4 years. Surgical Endoscopy. 2012;26:2944.
- U.S. News best hospitals 2013-2014. U.S. News & World Report. http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings/gastroenterology-and-gi-surgery. Accessed Jan. 2, 2014.
- Alexander JA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 12, 2014.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.