Given the health risks and the effects of quality of life, it's important to diagnose and treat heartburn as early as possible in the disease process. The first step to controlling heartburn is identifying what may trigger your attacks and how your body responds to those factors. It helps to chart the frequency and severity of heartburn attacks.
Record the date, time of occurrence, factors that seem to contribute to your heartburn and any symptoms that might be related. Then write down what you do to treat the heartburn and whether or how long it works. Note any activities that you limit because of your heartburn. This will help to assure that all these issues are discussed during your visit.
You can also ask yourself the following questions:
The next time that you consult your doctor for advice, bring this record and the answers to your questions with you to your visit. Your doctor will then ask you to complete a medical history and physical examination. The physical exam should assess your weight, pulse, lungs and heart function and may include an abdominal or rectal exam.
Usually a description of your symptoms will be all your doctor needs to establish a heartburn diagnosis. However, if your symptoms are particularly severe, don't respond to treatment, or if your doctor suspects GERD or another condition, you may need to undergo other tests. These diagnostic exams include:
Heartburn is common, but it is not trivial. In fact, frequent heartburn can severely impact the productivity, daily activities and quality of life of those who experience it. But heartburn can be treated and even prevented with a few changes to lifestyle and behaviour. Learn more about how to treat heartburn now.