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Book Review: “Coping with Chronic Heartburn”

Coping with Chronic Heartburn: What you need to know about acid reflux and GERD by Elaine Fantle Shimberg

Community Health Education Ctr  General Collection (RC815.7 .S565 2001)

Reviewed By: Elena Potrykus, Community Health Education Center Intern

The book Coping with Chronic Heartburn: What you need to know about acid reflux and GERD is, as the title suggests, about everything you need to know regarding heartburn, acid reflux, and Gastroesopageal Reflux Disease (GERD). This book is packed with clinical information and yet, the author, Elaine Shimberg, relates to her audience using colloquial vocabulary and by adding personal stories.  The author writes in first person, which comes across as someone familiar speaking to you in a calm tone, and presents the material to the reader in an informational yet simple manner suitable for most readers.

There are seven chapters in the book covering the general understanding of Gastroesopageal Reflux Disease: complications of the disease, acquiring medical care, what treatments are available, general myths about the disease, and frequently asked questions.  Each chapter is detailed with examples of commonly used medical care and medicines that a person who suffers from heartburn may be familiar with.  In some of the chapters she recommends suggestions for lifestyle changes, which may help combat GERD. She also gives examples of what has worked for her family, as she mentions that her grandfather suffers from heartburn. As I was reading, I found out new and surprising information about GERD. For instance, pregnant women are more susceptible to heartburn and therefore more prone to GERD if not treated correctly. Another surprising fact is that people who suffer from asthma can also have GERD.

Asthma is a common medical condition that is associated with GERD, which is a fact I did not know. Shimberg goes into great detail about the importance of having a condition that may upset GERD or make it worse. Asthma is just one of many conditions that the author points out as one complication that can affect GERD symptoms. She also points out others, such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and Down syndrome, to name a few. While mentioning the conditions she also points out medications that may also upset GERD. At the end of the book there are two added sections. The first covers myths concerning heartburn and GERD. The second is a glossary where the reader can look up commonly used vocabulary words associated with these conditions.

This book is a great resource for anyone who wants to become more familiar with heartburn, acid reflex or GERD. It is also a good resource for spouses and other family members to read, as being informed can help them help the ones they love and take questions they have to a medical professional. The author, Elaine Shimberg, is a highly respected medical writer, meaning the information in this book is accurate and credible. The organization of the information and the simplicity of the language make it a easy read for those who would like to know more about heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD.

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