I take chewable tablets whenever I need them, and that works out fine.

Photo of woman with a dog (tirc83 / iStockphoto / Thinkstock) Ruth, 63 years old

"I can’t really say for sure when my problems first started. I think it was around the mid-90s when I first had an unpleasant burning feeling in my throat. I didn’t know where it came from at the time, because I didn’t have a sore throat or anything. It then went away on its own again. But after a while it started coming back again and again."

At some point someone described similar symptoms in a conversation and mentioned the word heartburn. Although I’d heard of heartburn, I didn’t really know what it was. My father had problems with heartburn too. I never knew that though, until my mother told me later on. The symptoms started coming more frequently, and they also started getting worse. It didn’t make any sense to me at all. I’d sometimes have it, and then I wouldn’t have it for a while again. I thought I ate a healthy diet, and wasn’t sure what to do about it.

I didn't know what heartburn was back then

I then went to see my family doctor after some time. He said that I had heartburn and that I should watch what I eat – for example, eat less fatty foods. He also mentioned that some people get heartburn when they eat sweet foods like candy.

So I started paying attention to my diet and got the impression that it could have something to do with that. I tried to cut certain things out of my diet, but I have to admit I simply really enjoy eating them. I also stopped eating sweet foods completely for a while. My symptoms got better, or even went away for weeks. But they came back again.

I went back to my doctor and told him I didn’t feel quite right. I simply found the burning really unpleasant, downright awful. He said that my stomach was causing the problem and prescribed chewable tablets. I always carried the tablets on me and chewed them whenever the symptoms arose, and then I felt better again. I was happy with the way things were. The main thing was that the symptoms were under control.

I don't tolerate sweet foods or red wine very well

Then my doctor’s practice was taken over by a different doctor, and the new doctor said we should take a different, more long-term, treatment approach. He prescribed different medications, but they didn’t work. So I went back to using the chewable tablets.

I had a gastroscopy and was diagnosed with gastro-esophageal reflux disease. It hadn’t developed very far and there was no need for further treatment. That’s still the case today. I take the chewable tablets whenever I need them, and that works out fine.

My symptoms are definitely related to what I eat. Certain things I eat or drink cause problems, including chocolate, some types of candy and certain kinds of red wine. But I can eat everything else, even spicy foods.

It mainly hurts in the evening

If I’m not careful enough and eat sweet foods, or drink the wrong kind of wine, then I pay for it. I used to find it difficult to say I don’t drink this or that when I went out. I sometimes found it easier to take a sip of wine to avoid awkward questions, and then deal with the consequences. I did used to do that sometimes.

It always takes a while before the symptoms start. I usually only notice them when I lie down in the evening. Then my throat and upper chest burn, there where my food pipe starts. That can be really uncomfortable. I can’t just imagine it away or distract myself. Drinking something or swallowing doesn’t help either.

I always slept pretty horizontally until my doctor suggested that I raise my upper body a bit. I can sleep well if I do that. Overall, I’ve gotten used to having reflux and can live with it just fine nowadays.


Acknowledgment

Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.

The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.

Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.