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Medications to Treat Acid Reflux, Heartburn & Indigestion

Is heartburn keeping you up at night? Do your get acid reflux after every meal you eat? Have you tried treating your symptoms naturally with no avail?  Then it may be time to try a medication for acid reflux. If your indigestion occurs daily or more than three times a week then it’s recommended to start a heartburn medication.  Most acid reflux medications are available over the counter (OTC), but if symptoms of heartburn persist then it may be time to check in with your doctor as this maybe indicative of a much more serious problem than indigestion. 




Antacids

Antacids are the most popular heartburn indigestion medication available over the counter. Antacids should be taken for fast acting relief in mild cases of acid reflux that are isolated in occurrence. They will give immediate and short-lived relief of symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. The ingredients include magnesium and aluminum which neutralizes stomach acid giving the sufferer immediate relief. Liquid antacids may also contain sodium alginate, which provides a protective coating over the esophagus and stomach lining.  Antacids cannot reduce inflammation in the esophagus, so once they are out of your system symptoms may reoccur. Overuse of antacids can cause diarrhea, constipation, and in some cases electrolyte imbalances. Commonly known antacids include Tums, Maalox, Rolaids, and Mylanta and are available at any drugstore, grocery store, gas station, and convenient store.

 

Oral Suspension Medications

Oral suspension medications are sometimes used as a replacement for antacids in the treatment of heartburn, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, and throat, stomach and intestinal ulcers. They are liquid medications that stop the symptoms quickly and effectively by coating the inside of the esophagus. Oral suspension medicines are short lived, because once the coating wears off symptoms may return. This type of medicine should only be used for people who experience symptoms less than a couple times a week or a month. Common oral suspension drugs include Pepto Bismol and Carafate.

 





H2 Receptor Antagonists

H2 receptor antagonist medicines used to require a prescription, but have since been moved to over the counter.  They work by blocking H2 receptors on stomach cells. It is these cells when stimulated by histamines that generate acid. So when H2 receptor antagonists attach to these cells they block the production of acid. This medication provides longer lasting relief than antacids, however they take longer to take effect. Therefore you have to take the medication 30 minutes before eating or before sleeping. H2 receptor antagonists are effective for mild acid reflux, which occurs a couple times a month. Some side effects may occur such as diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, and tiredness. Common brand names include Zantac, Pepcid AC, and Tagamet.


 

Proton Pump Inhibitors

Proton pump inhibitors are the most common used medication for acid reflux because they are safe and are available both by prescription and over the counter.  It works by shutting down the proton pump system within the stomach that generates acid. Proton pump inhibitors are available in tablets, capsules, powder, and injections. In addition to treating acid reflux, these medications also treat stomach ulcers and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome a very rare condition related to the stomach. In addition to relieving symptoms of acid reflux. It also helps heal damaged esophageal tissue from acid erosion.  Therefore proton pump inhibitors should only be taken by people who experience frequent and severe symptoms of heartburn. Side effects are rare but may include diarrhea, constipation, stomach pains, drowsiness, dizziness and headaches. Popular brands include Prilosec, which is available over the counter, Prevacid and Nexium, which require a prescription. 


***Tell your doctor before starting any new medications. If symptoms persist after starting a new treatment regiment consult your physician immediately as this may be a sign of a more serious problem.