These natural remedies for heartburn relief may help silent acid reflux too. Heartburn that occurs more than twice a week may be considered symptomatic of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
They can offer quick relief, but they won’t help heal a damaged esophagus. Let your doctor know how the OTC medicines work for you. If your symptoms do not improve or get worse, the doctor may suggest a prescription medicine. If possible, try not to take PPIs long-term.
Surgery is never the first option for treating GERD. Changes in lifestyle, diet, and habits, nonprescription antacids, and prescription medications all must be tried before resorting to surgery.
These medications, which include Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium, block acid production and aid in healing damaged esophageal tissue, so they should be taken by people who are having more frequent, severe symptoms. Medications to reduce acid production. These medications – known as H-2-receptor blockers – include cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine (Axid AR) and ranitidine (Zantac). H-2-receptor blockers don’t act as quickly as antacids, but they provide longer relief and may decrease acid production from the stomach for up to 12 hours. Stronger versions are available by prescription.
GERD is a more serious form of acid reflux with severe symptoms that happen often and over a long time. Your doctor can tell you if you have GERD. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is when food or liquid travels from the stomach back up into the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach).
These drugs, which are taken instead of H2 blockers, also come in prescription strength. Like H2 blockers, they lower the amount of acid made by the stomach, but they’re a bit more potent and work over a longer period of time. Don’t worry-you’ll still be able to digest a meal. “These drugs don’t completely eliminate acid, so your stomach will still be producing sufficient levels to process food,” says Dr. Falk.
Some are combined with a foaming agent. Foam in the stomach helps prevent acid from backing up into the esophagus. Over-the-counter medications also may help relieve your symptoms. Check with your health-care professional before trying any of these.
When all is well, there’s only one way the food and stomach acids can go, and that’s down. But when you have acid reflux, that acid reverses direction. Sometimes you’ll taste sourness, and maybe even a bit of the food you just ate, in the back of your mouth.
There are several reasons why people have GERD. One possible reason has to do with the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus. Normally this muscle closes to keep food and stomach acid from coming back up the esophagus. In some people with GERD this muscle does not always work right. Acid blockers in prescription strength block stomach acid, and treat stomach or duodenal ulcers, erosive esophagitis, and GERD by reducing the production of stomach acid.
- Taken every day (as opposed to as-needed, which is the case with OTC treatments), they’re useful for those with full-blown GERD.
- Your doctor can tell you if surgery might help you.
- Talk to your doctor about a diet plan to help you lose weight.
Is There Surgery to Treat Acid Reflux (GERD)?
These work on an as-needed-basis by neutralizing stomach acid. “The effect is very short-lived, so it’s best to use them right after a meal, for situational symptoms,” says Gary W. Falk, MD, spokesperson for the American Gastroenterological Association and a professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, PA. For mild to moderate cases of acid reflux, you’ll often feel relief immediately.
“There’s also a link between heartburn and GERD and stress levels, so try to take time out to relax if you’re developing these kinds of symptoms,” suggests Dr. Malloy. Avoid nuts and mints – both increase lower esophageal sphincter pressure and allow the reflux of acid into your esophagus and throat. Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) are the heavy artillery of the heartburn world. For this category, we’d suggest Nexium 24HR . The active ingredient, esomeprazole, is a newer member of the PPI class that got high marks from our experts for efficacy.
Secondly, the sodium content of baking soda is not healthy, particularly for people with heart problems, high blood pressure, or kidney disease. There are other antacids that will work just as well with fewer consequences. If prescription medications are causing reflux to worsen, then there are two options. First, try to switch the offending medication to something else.
Baking soda and existing medical conditions
However, you may still need medicine after surgery to control your symptoms. Promotility agents.
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A potent option for heartburn that doesn’t respond to other over-the-counter medications, though it requires a two-week course of treatment. “Ranitidine is the most commonly used over-the-counter H2 blocker, and it has a very safe side effect profile,” said Dr. Gregg Kai Nishi, bariatric surgeon and assistant clinical director of surgery at UCLA. In fact, ranitidine is generally considered safe enough even for pregnant women. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that side effects “are uncommon, usually minor” for ranitidine and include things like headache, drowsiness, and constipation.
Rabeprazole and pantoprazole are smaller and may be better for patients who have problems swallowing capsules. Pantoprazole is marketed as being cheaper, and may be better for patients paying for their own medications. If you are having heartburn and want immediate relief, over the counter antacids (e.g., Maalox, Mylanta, Gaviscon, etc) are still the best.