When your lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t close tightly after eating, acid from your stomach can reflux back up into your esophagus – this is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
There are various over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help alleviate your symptoms. These medicines work quickly or provide long-lasting comfort.
Antacids are a class of medications that neutralize (lower) stomach acid, helping alleviate heartburn and indigestion symptoms. They come as liquids or chewable tablets and can be purchased without a prescription from pharmacies.
They can be used to treat conditions such as heartburn (dyspepsia) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). While they don’t heal the stomach lining or prevent ulcers from developing, they may provide temporary relief of symptoms associated with these diseases.
Your doctor may suggest taking an antacid if you experience long-term or severe symptoms of GERD. They also might provide medication to combat peptic ulcers, which are sore patches on the lining of your stomach or oesophagus.
Some antacids create a gel on the surface of your stomach and oesophagus that prevents acid from flowing into your throat. Others contain alginates, which form a raft to stop acid from backing up into your esophagus.
Sodium bicarbonate is another antacid that can neutralize stomach acid and alleviate symptoms such as heartburn and indigestion. It’s available over-the-counter and simply needs to be mixed with water for a solution.
Liquid antacids coat and soothe your stomach and esophagus, working faster than pills to provide immediate relief from symptoms. You can take them after meals or when you feel a symptom coming on.
You can also use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), which is naturally present in some foods, to neutralize stomach acid and reduce symptoms of indigestion and heartburn. Simply combine one teaspoon of baking soda with about 4 ounces of warm water to create a solution, then drink it immediately after eating.
Some people experience difficulty absorption when taking other medicines, so it’s essential to consult your doctor if you are on any other treatments. Antacids must be taken at different times from other drugs and your healthcare provider can advise on the most beneficial dose for you.
H2 blockers are a type of acid reflux medicine that helps to reduce the amount of acid produced in your stomach. They are available both over-the-counter (OTC) and by prescription.
These drugs can be used to alleviate symptoms such as heartburn and indigestion. Furthermore, they help protect against peptic ulcers by helping the stomach stay acidic.
These medications come in various forms, such as tablets, dissolvable pills and liquids. They work by attaching to histamine receptors on your stomach to reduce stomach acid production and alleviate symptoms within an hour.
Antacids are commonly prescribed to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and other types of heartburn. They neutralize stomach acid and reduce symptoms by relieving inflammation in the lining of either the stomach or esophagus.
One type of acid reflux medication is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). This drug blocks acid production and has been prescribed to treat GERD, stomach ulcers, and other conditions.
Proton pump inhibitors may not be suitable for everyone and may lead to serious side effects. Furthermore, these drugs have an adverse reaction on your liver and kidneys.
H2 blockers are less likely to cause side effects than antacids or PPIs and can be taken with meals or before bedtime to relieve GERD and other symptoms.
Most pharmacies carry them over-the-counter. Taken with your morning meal or before an evening meal, these pills take 30 to 90 minutes to start working and may provide relief for up to several hours after taking them.
These medications are generally safe, though they should not be taken by pregnant or breast-feeding mothers. Furthermore, people with certain health conditions such as a history of liver issues or low blood pressure should also not take them.
FDA has approved four types of H2 blockers: cimetidine, ranitidine, famotidine and nizatidine. Cimetidine is currently the most popular H2 blocker available and comes in various forms.
Ranitidine has been taken off the market due to high levels of nitrosamines, a chemical which may cause harm if consumed in excess. Famotidine and nizatidine can still be obtained with a valid prescription.
For those suffering from chronic heartburn or acid reflux, PPIs such as omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), or pantoprazole (Protonix) may be prescribed to control stomach acid. These drugs have become the most widely prescribed for those suffering from GERD or other gastrointestinal issues that cause frequent stomach acid to back up into the esophagus.
They can also prevent ulcers in the stomach and duodenum. As such, they tend to be more effective than antacids at relieving heartburn symptoms, as well as helping lower its likelihood of occurring in the first place.
These medications must be taken regularly in order to reap their full benefits. They’re not suitable for people with occasional heartburn, so your doctor will determine how often and how long you require them.
Some PPIs may make your stomach more conducive to bacteria, increasing the likelihood of getting infections such as pneumonia and C. difficile diarrhea – an infection which can occur in either the colon or intestines.
Your stomach and digestive tract contain beneficial bacteria that help keep your gut healthy. But when these “good” bacteria become overrun by harmful ones, it can lead to various issues like inflammation or other illnesses.
By taking a PPI on a regular basis, you can reduce the risk of these infections. Your doctor may suggest discussing with them the pros and cons of taking this medication; they may be able to suggest other, natural ways to control your stomach pain without resorting to drugs.
Another potential concern is that certain drugs may reduce your capacity for calcium absorption, potentially leading to osteoporosis. While this isn’t usually an issue for most people, those with weak bones or those who are more prone to bone fractures might want to consider this possibility.
Experts agree that those suffering from chronic GERD or acid reflux should discuss the potential risks and advantages of taking a PPI, especially if it’s taken regularly for an extended period. They also suggest trying lifestyle changes before seeking medical assistance.
Acid reflux is a widespread condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While lifestyle changes and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can often provide temporary relief, prescription acid reflux medication may be necessary in some cases to fully alleviate symptoms.
Over-the-counter medications, such as antacids and H2 blockers, can provide temporary relief from heartburn by neutralizing stomach acid quickly. Furthermore, these drugs help repair the lining of your esophagus which has been damaged due to acid reflux.
If an OTC medication doesn’t relieve your heartburn or you’re taking multiple prescription acid reflux medicines, your doctor may suggest a prescription option. There are various prescription medicines that can be prescribed to treat GERD, such as antacids, histamine-2 (H2) blockers and proton pump inhibitors.
Antacids like Rolaids and Alka-Seltzer can help alleviate symptoms of GERD by neutralizing stomach acid quickly. They’re available over-the-counter in liquid or chewable tablet form and are effective at treating mild or occasional GERD symptoms.
Histamine-2 (H2) blockers, such as Tagamet and Pepcid, are prescription medications that provide long-lasting relief from acid reflux symptoms. Although these drugs don’t work as quickly as antacids do, their effects last up to 12 hours, decreasing how often you experience heartburn symptoms.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as Prilosec and Zegerid, can help control chronic acid reflux by blocking stomach acid production. These drugs should be taken before meals to reduce stomach acid production and have few side effects.
If you suffer from persistent acid reflux, your doctor may suggest taking a stronger PPI medication to improve symptoms and manage the condition. Usually, this type of drug is only prescribed for four to eight weeks before discontinuation is possible.
In addition to prescription medications, your doctor may suggest other treatments for GERD. These could include changing your diet, taking an anti-reflux medication and having a procedure done to repair or strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter.
Prolonged use of OTC and prescription antacids and PPIs may lead to serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease and kidney failure. Therefore, it’s essential that you discuss with your doctor whether it is safe for you to continue taking these medications.