Is it More than Simple Heartburn? Ask Your Doctor

IFFGD shares tips on how to prepare for an appointment with your physician this GERD Awareness Week

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Milwaukee, WI, November 23, 2015Heartburn can be a pretty ordinary thing, especially when people are eating large meals during the holiday season. But, what if your heartburn gets worse or is persisting beyond an overindulgent meal now and then? This could be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and may warrant a trip to your healthcare provider.

To help you make the most of your visit to the doctor, this GERD Awareness Week, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) shares some quick tips on how to get ready for your appointment if you are experiencing the symptoms of GERD.

GERD is a common disorder that occurs when the contents of the stomach repeatedly flow back into the esophagus, or food tube, causing symptoms. These typically include chronic or persistent heartburn or regurgitation. Troubles swallowing, sore throat, or hoarseness in the morning are just a few other signs.

“The symptoms of GERD can seem so common that many people do not consult with healthcare providers or mention them during routine exams,” said Nancy Norton, president and founder of IFFGD. “When symptoms often occur two or more times a week or become more severe, it is important to talk to a physician. Left untreated, GERD can lead to complications, or other health problems.”

Diagnosing GERD

If you suspect that you have GERD, schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional. GERD can usually be identified based on the symptoms. Tests may sometimes be done to confirm a diagnosis. Providing a doctor with details about your symptoms can help him or her reach an accurate diagnosis.

Before your appointment, be prepared to share these things with your doctor:

  • A list of when your heartburn occurs (time of day, after meals, etc.) and how often
  • The severity of your heartburn
  • Other symptoms you are experiencing
  • 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 and how effective this has been in providing relief
  • What antacids and other over-the-counter medications you have used and what relief, if any, they have provided

“Providing symptom-related details can help a physician identify key elements that characterize GERD,” said Norton. “An accurate diagnosis is the first step in developing a personalized treatment plan aimed at improving the symptoms, avoiding complications, and helping individuals feel better.”

GERD Awareness Week is November 22 – 28, 2015 and takes place each year during the week of Thanksgiving. Learn more about GERD on IFFGD’s dedicated website .


The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) is a nonprofit education and research organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people affected by chronic digestive conditions. Founded in 1991, IFFGD helps improve care by enhancing awareness, educating individuals, and supporting research into treatments and cures for GI disorders. 


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IFFGD is a nonprofit education and research organization. Our mission is to inform, assist, and support people affected by gastrointestinal disorders.

Our original content is authored specifically for IFFGD readers, in response to your questions and concerns.

If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting IFFGD with a small tax-deductible donation.

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