Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
When To Call a Doctor
The main symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is an uncomfortable feeling of burning, warmth, heat, or pain just behind the breastbone, a feeling commonly referred to as heartburn. Sometimes heartburn can feel like the chest pain of a heart attack.
Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if:
- You have symptoms of a heart attack. These may include:
- Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
- Shortness of breath.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly or in one or both shoulders or arms.
- Lightheadedness or sudden weakness.
- A fast or irregular heartbeat.
After you call 911 , the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength or 2 to 4 low-dose aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.
Call your doctor immediately if you:
- Vomit blood.
- Have bloody, black, or maroon-colored stools.
Call your doctor if your GERD symptoms:
- Do not improve after 2 weeks of home treatment, are different or are getting worse, or are interfering with normal activities.
- Occur with choking or difficulty swallowing.
- Occur with a lot of weight loss when you are not trying to lose weight.
- Have occurred frequently over several years and are only partially relieved with lifestyle changes and nonprescription medicines that reduce or block acid.
Reference Watchful waiting Opens New Window is a wait-and-see approach. Occasional mild heartburn can often be relieved by making lifestyle changes and taking nonprescription medicines that reduce or block acid. Contact a doctor if you have any of the symptoms listed above.
Who to see
The following health professionals can evaluate symptoms of GERD:
- Reference Family medicine doctor Opens New Window
- Reference General practice doctor Opens New Window
- Reference Internist Opens New Window
- Reference Physician assistant (PA) Opens New Window
- Reference Nurse practitioner (NP) Opens New Window
- Reference Pediatrician Opens New Window, if you think your child has GERD symptoms
- Reference Obstetrician Opens New Window or Reference gynecologist Opens New Window, if you are pregnant
You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in diseases of the digestive tract (Reference gastroenterologist Opens New Window) to check severe GERD symptoms or to get an opinion on whether surgery is needed. If you are thinking about having surgery, you may also be referred to a general surgeon who has experience treating stomach and esophagus problems.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Reference Making the Most of Your Appointment.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference March 6, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Peter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology