Do you suffer from acid reflux or heartburn? If so, you’re not alone. According to the American Gastroenterological Association, one in 10 Americans suffer from these at least once a week.
With so many different types of medications on the pharmacy shelves, it’s hard to know where to start in terms of getting relief.
First of all, talk to your pharmacist. She will help you look at the medications that you’re already taking — some of which may be contributing to your symptoms. Be sure to bring a full list of medications that you already take, including all prescriptions and OTC drugs, vitamins and supplements.
Many doctors and pharmacists suggest over-the-counter antacids for occasional heartburn. Histamine blockers Zantac and Pepcid can also be found over-the-counter to help relieve symptoms of acid reflux. These are good acid reducers to start with if you haven’t been on any medications.
If heartburn symptoms persist, your doctor may suggest proton pump inhibitors, such as Prevacid to reduce the stomach’s production of acid, or Reglan to make the stomach empty itself faster. Your pharmacist or your doctor can explain how these drugs work.
Perhaps before even trying medications, you should look at some other things that may be triggering your heartburn. If you’re overweight, that could be a contributing factor for acid reflux and heartburn. Certain foods can also be triggers. Coffee, chocolate, carbonated drinks, fatty and spicy foods, tomatoes, citrus fruits, some dairy, and alcohol are common heartburn triggers. With heartburn, eating smaller meals and avoiding food for two to three hours before bedtime can ease symptoms. You may want to keep a heartburn diary to help determine what foods trigger the problem.
Relief can vary depending on the severity of your symptoms and the medication you take.
Antacids like Tums work instantly, but wear off quickly. Antacids work best if taken 30 to 60 minutes before eating.Histamine blockers take effect in about an hour, but must be taken twice a day for heartburn prevention. Proton pump inhibitors are the most powerful drugs, but may not provide immediate relief because they act slowly. These drugs must be taken every day to be effective.
You should see your doctor if any heartburn treatment is ineffective after two weeks. Other red flags include cardiac-type chest pain, painful or difficult swallowing, recurrent bronchial symptoms/cough, hoarseness, signs/symptoms of gastrointestinal bleeding, and progressive unintentional weight loss.
Sources: Pharmacy Times and WebMD