If you’re experiencing frequent heartburn, consider trying some of these acid reflux medications.
In this article:
- What Is Acid Reflux?
- Over-the-Counter Medications for Acid Reflux and GERD
- Prescription Medications for GERD
- Surgery and Other Procedures
- Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux and GERD
How to Treat Acid Reflux and GERD Symptoms: 6 Medications
What Is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux happens when gastric fluid flows backward into the esophagus and results in heartburn. This may happen to anyone, occasionally.
If you experience acid reflux more than twice a week, you’re likely to have gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Heartburn is just one of its several symptoms and may also include chest pain and coughing.
The first level of treatment for GERD is usually over-the-counter medications like antacids and lifestyle and dietary modification. For more severe cases, prescription medications, surgeries, and other procedures may be needed.
Over-the-Counter Medications for Acid Reflux and GERD
Antacids like Mylanta, Tums, and Rolaids neutralize stomach acid and provide quick relief, but taking them alone will not heal the esophageal damage.
Overuse of antacids may also cause side effects like diarrhea and, in worst cases, kidney problems.
2. H2-Receptor Blockers
These medications reduce the production of stomach acid. Examples of H2-receptor blockers are ranitidine (Zantac), famotidine (Pepcid AC), cimetidine (Tagamet HB), and nizatidine (Axid AR).
They don’t take effect as fast as antacids but they can provide longer relief by decreasing acid production in the stomach for up to 12 hours.
Stronger variants of these medications are also available by prescription.
3. Proton Pump Inhibitors
These are medications that heal the esophagus and block acid production. They can block acid better than H2-receptor-blockers and give esophageal tissue more time to heal.
Examples of over-the-counter proton pump inhibitors are omeprazole (Prilosec OTC, Zegerid OTC) and lansoprazole (Prevacid 24 HR).
Prescription Medications for GERD
1. Prescription-Strength H2-Receptor Blockers
These include the prescription-strength versions of:
- famotidine (Pepcid)
- nizatidine (Axid)
- ranitidine (Zantac)
These are generally safe and well-tolerated, however, long-term use may result in a slight increase in the risk of bone fractures and vitamin B12 deficiency.
2. Prescription-Strength Proton Pump Inhibitors
These are the prescription-strength versions of:
- esomeprazole (Nexium)
- pantoprazole (Protonix)
- lansoprazole (Prevacid)
- omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid)
- rabeprazole (Aciphex)
- dexlansoprazole (Dexilant)
While generally well-tolerated, potential side effects include headaches, nausea, diarrhea, and vitamin B12 deficiency. Chronic use may raise the chances of getting hip fractures.
3. Lower Esophageal Sphincter Strengtheners
These medications ease GERD by reducing the relaxation frequency of the lower esophageal sphincter. An example of medications like this is Baclofen.
Side effects might include nausea and fatigue.
Sphincter Definition: A sphincter is a ring-like muscle which contracts to open or close a bodily opening or passage it is surrounding
Surgery and Other Procedures
Medications can usually help with GERD. However, in cases when they no longer provide relief or a patient wants to avoid long-term use of medication, doctors may recommend the following:
This is a minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery wherein the top of the stomach is wrapped around the lower esophageal sphincter. This is done to tighten the muscle and prevent stomach fluids from backflowing.
A patient may choose a partial or a total fundoplication.
2. Linx Device Implantation
A Linx device is a ring made of magnetic beads. Using a minimally invasive surgery, this ring will be wrapped around the stomach-esophagus junction.
Because of the magnetic attraction among the beads, the device is strong enough to keep the acid from refluxing by closing the junction and weak enough to still allow food to enter the stomach.
Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux and GERD
1. Baking Soda
Baking soda is a base substance. It can neutralize stomach acid which causes heartburn.
When experiencing heartburn, it may help to drink a glass of water with a teaspoon of baking soda. You can repeat as needed but do not drink more than seven doses per day.
It’s advised not to use this remedy for more than a week because of its high salt content and other potential side effects like nausea and swelling.
2. Chewing Gum
A Journal of Dental Research study reported people with GERD can get relief from chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal. This is so as chewing gum can make you salivate and saliva can help wash away the acid.
Try chewing a piece of gum after a meal to avoid heartburn.
3. Ginger Tea
From the common stomach ache to nausea and acid reflux, ginger tea may soothe many digestive discomforts. Enjoy a flavorful ginger tea by simmering slices of ginger root in water for about 30 minutes.
To get maximum relief, drink it before a meal.
4. Chamomile Tea
Drinking chamomile tea half an hour before bedtime may help balance out the acidity levels of your stomach. This tea also has stress-relieving properties—stress can induce acid reflux.
You can buy instant chamomile tea in grocery stores but you can also make you own.
- Boil some water.
- Add the chamomile petals and stir.
- Let it simmer for about 45 seconds.
- Strain the petals and pour the tea into a mug.
- You can add honey or lemon, too, for additional flavor.
5. Learn Which Foods and Drinks to Avoid
Certain foods and drinks can trigger and raise the risk of acid reflux. With GERD, on the other hand, patients should be watchful of foods and drinks which can activate their symptoms.
Avoid the following foods and drinks:
- tomato sauce and other tomato-based products
- high-fat foods like fast food products and greasy foods
- fried foods
- citrus fruit juices
You’ll help reduce acid reflux episodes by limiting or avoiding these triggers. Having a food journal to keep a list of what triggers your acid reflux is a great idea.
6. Quit Smoking
Smoking can damage the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle responsible for keeping stomach juices from flowing back up. When this muscle becomes weak from smoking, a person may get frequent acid reflux episodes.
That’s another reason for you to quit smoking, isn’t it?
7. Eat Smaller Meals and Don’t Lie Down After Eating
The stomach gets less pressure when you eat smaller meals. This can prevent stomach acids from backflowing.
Try eating smaller meals more frequently to reduce episodes of acid reflux. This can also help you lose weight—overweight people are more at risk for GERD.
After eating, avoid lying down since it can trigger acid reflux. It’s recommended by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to wait three hours post-eating before lying down.
When in bed, try elevating your head with some pillows to avoid heartburn at night.
Watch this video from Natural Cures Secret to learn more about how to treat acid reflux naturally:
In managing acid reflux and GERD, prevention and cure go hand in hand. Stop annoying heartburn from recurring by following these tips and trying some of the treatment suggestions given above.
Do you have any questions about GERD and acid reflux? Let us know in the comments section below!