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What do I need to know about caring for someone with GERD and heartburn?

You should make sure that he or she has been evaluated by a physician to determine the appropriate testing and treatment. Common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease are heartburn and/or acid regurgitation. Heartburn is a burning sensation felt behind the breastbone that occurs when stomach contents irritate the normal lining of the esophagus. Acid regurgitation is the sensation of stomach fluid coming up through the chest, which may reach the mouth. Less common symptoms that may also be associated with gastroesophageal reflux include unexplained chest pain, wheezing, sore throat and cough, among others. You should see your doctor immediately if you have symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, trouble swallowing or internal bleeding, in addition to heartburn and/or acid regurgitation. Symptoms that persist after you have made simple lifestyle changes also warrant a visit to your doctor. In addition, if you use over-the-counter medications regularly to reduce symptoms such as heartburn or acid regurgitation, you should consult a physician to determine the best course of treatment for you.

When caring for someone with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and heartburn, it is important to make sure a doctor is consulted if the person has heartburn more than twice a week. Medication, either over-the-counter or by prescription, might be necessary to treat the person's heartburn and GERD symptoms. If you are responsible for preparing the person's food, it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the kinds of food and drink that can cause heartburn. These include spicy, acidic, or fried foods; chocolate; peppermint; citrus fruit; caffeinated sodas and other carbonated drinks; coffee; and alcohol. If possible, have the person wait at least three hours after eating before lying down. You might want to consider elevating the head of the person's bed at least six inches as well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.