Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one of the most common gastric diagnoses facing adult patients. Young patients are also not secured from its risks. DeVault and Castell (2005) describe the updated guidelines for diagnosing and treating GERD. They note that because GERD is a chronic condition, maintenance therapy plays one of the crucial roles in improving the health and wellbeing of every patient (DeVault & Castell, 2005). According to DeVault and Castell (2005), as GERD is a chronic health condition, many patients diagnosed with this disease will possibly require lifelong treatment. Daily maintenance therapy and lifestyle modifications are the most important elements of long-term approaches to GERD.
However, it is difficult to imagine that even the most advanced patients will manage to cope with their long-term health challenges without appropriate education. It is possible to assume that the long-term maintenance therapy for GERD should include daily medications, lifestyle modifications, and patient education. The American Gastroenterological Association recommends engaging patients with GERD in in-depth discussions of their disease, treatment, and future outcomes with their physicians (Khan et al, 2013). Unfortunately, only 66 percent of patients report being involved in such discussions at some stage of treatment (Khan et al., 2013). People who lack such discussion opportunities often experience difficulties with their treatment, as they are not always aware of the correct time to take their medication (Khan et al, 2013). Many others supposedly do not know how and when their lives should be modified to minimize the risks of hospitalization and surgical interventions. Given the growing costs of medical care, patient education on GERD is an effective preventive measure, which may help patients improve the quality of their lives and, at the same time, optimize the costs of health care. Even if the measures of treating GERD are conservative, the patient must be aware of its nature and implications for his/her health.
The patient education plan for a 47-year-old female diagnosed with GERD will include a series of in-depth discussions with the physician and nurse regarding the nature of the disease, its current state and prospects, as well as the conservative approaches to treatment and the best possible ways to alleviate symptoms. In addition, the patient will receive written materials and handouts to help her manage her medication and lifestyle activities without applying to professional assistance. First, in relation to the proton pump inhibitor, the patient will need to know that its main purpose is to block stomach acid production (Rayhorn, 2004). Yet, the female patient will have to remember about the risks of constipation, headache, and abdominal pain: these are the most common side effects of proton pump inhibitors (Rayhorn, 2004). Second, the patient will have to change her lifestyles, in order to create favorable conditions for the successful recovery, while minimizing the risks of hospital readmissions. Particularly in relation to the breakthrough symptoms at night, the patient will have to learn to sleep with her head raised at least 4 inches from the bed, which is possible with the help of extra pillows (Rayhorn, 2004). Certainly, extra pillows can hardly be considered as the best solution to this problem, due to their structure. The best the patient can do is using bricks or wood blocks to have her head elevated during her sleep. Also, she can use a foam wedge to support the upper half of her body.
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Moreover, it is better not to lie down at least within the 3 hours following a meal (Rayhorn, 2004).
It is never bad to drink plenty of water, particularly when it comes to medication times. Maintaining an optimal weight is critical to the patient's health and wellbeing. Eating smaller meals is better than having one big meal during the day. The patient must avoid drinking alcohol and eating spices, which may cause the disease to return.