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10-minute clinic: heartburn and indigestion

This handy 10-minute clinic is a reference guide that will help you when advising customers on heartburn and indigestion

This handy 10-minute clinic is designed to act as a quick reference guide that will help you when advising customers in different category areas. The flowchart will lead you through the decision-making process to help you respond to customer queries. This month, we look at the advice you can offer and the products you can recommend to people suffering from heartburn and indigestion.

At a glance

Whenever you talk to any customer, remember WWHAM

Who is it for?

It may not be the customer who needs the treatment. 

What are the symptoms?

Ask the customer to decribe their symptoms so that you can establish whether they are describing indigestion, heartburn or something more serious.

How long have the symptoms been present? 

Customers who suffer from chronic or long-term indigestion or heartburn should be referred to the pharmacist. 

Action already taken? 

This will help to establish what the customer has already taken or used, so that you can recommend a product with a different active ingredient, if necessary. 

Medication? 

It is important to refer customer who are taking any other medication to the pharmacist. 

You don’t have to ask these questions in the above order, and a customer might give you some of this information without you asking. As long as you get them into a conversation, you should be able to get the information you need in order to make a recommendation.

The golden rule to remember is: if in doubt, refer to the pharmacist.

Don’t be embarrassed to ask for their advice as they have a lot of information about products and symptoms to hand that you may not be aware of.   

When to refer to the pharmacist

  • Symptoms that are very frequent or are increasing in frequency
  • Symptoms that have lasted for more than two weeks, despite using an OTC product
  • Discomfort or pain related to exercise
  • First-time sufferers over the age of 55 years
  • Pregnant women
  • Children
  • Weight loss without dieting
  • Difficulty swallowing or a feeling that food is getting stuck when swallowing 
  • If the customer regularly takes aspirin or NSAIDs
  • Blood in the stools, pain radiating into the arm or back, breathing difficulties, chest tightness and vomiting
  • If a customer is taking other medicines or has a medical condition. 

Self care tips

  • Eat small, regular meals and chew food thoroughly 
  • Don’t eat late at night or just before going to bed
  • Avoid rich, fatty or spicy foods
  • Cut down or try to stop smoking
  • If overweight, try to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight
  • If symptoms are worse at night, try using an extra pillow to raise the upper body. 

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