Talking to your doctor effectively can help make appointments easier and less stressful for you. Like other chronic diseases, managing gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can be a challenge. Effective management often depends on a successful patient-doctor relationship. Although the time you spend with your doctor might be limited, you can help ensure that effective two-way communication takes place during your visit by being prepared. That way, you can get the most out of your visit.
We encourage you to be proactive in your own health maintenance. Make the most out of your doctor visit – be prepared.
Tips on Talking to Your Doctor and Getting the Most out of Your Appointment
When you visit your doctor, you will want to know:
- What’s wrong,
- What the doctor can do to treat it, and
- What you can do to better manage it.
Your doctor will begin by taking a history. He or she will ask for a description of the symptoms as well as what things seem to bring them on or make them better. This will be followed by a physical exam, possibly some tests, a diagnosis, and a discussion of treatment options.
Be Prepared Before Your Appointment
Before your appointment, be prepared to provide your doctor with the following information:
- List of when your heartburn occurs (time of day, after meals, etc.)
- The severity of your heartburn
- How often your heartburn occurs (per week)
- Other symptoms
- How your symptoms affect your daily activities
- How your symptoms affect your sleep
- What changes in diet and lifestyle choices you have made to relieve your symptoms
- If these diet and lifestyle changes have been effective in providing relief
- What antacids and other over-the-counter medications you have used
- What relief (if any) these medications have provided
Get Your Questions Answered
Here are some questions to ask when talking to your doctor during your appointment:
- How can I tell the difference between simple heartburn and a more serious condition?
- Do I have GERD?
- How is GERD treated?
- What medicines are available for GERD?
- Is there a cure?
- How can I manage my symptoms?
- What happens if my symptoms become worse?
If your doctor prescribes a medicine, find out:
- What is the correct dosage
- What side effects to look for
- What you can do to minimize or avoid side effects
- What to do if side effects occur
- How long you will need to be on the medicine
You may need to take a medicine long-term to control your GERD. At later visits, ask your doctor if your effective dosage can be reduced.
Adapted from IFFGD Publication: Talking to Your Doctor About GERD.