10 Tips to Ease Heartburn Triggered by Medications
If you take medications that cause heartburn, try these tips from experts for relief.
10 Tips When Medication Causes Heartburn continued...
5. Look for over-the-counter relief. It's ironic, but often the only
way to treat heartburn that's a side effect of taking a medication is to take
another medication. Start small and safe, with over-the-counter (OTC) antacids.
Maalox, Rolaids, Tums, and other calcium-based antacids are generally safe for
most people, says O'Brien -- but again, be sure you check it out with your
doctor or pharmacist first to be sure.
6. Ask about prescription relief. For severe or chronic heartburn, a
class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors (Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix, and
others) may offer heartburn relief. "For the most part, proton pump
inhibitors are typically dosed once a day, which is much more convenient,"
says O'Brien. Histamine blockers such as Pepcid, Tagamet, and Zantac are the
other major group of heartburn drugs. These are usually taken twice a day.
7. Understand drug interactions and absorption. With prescription
heartburn drugs that block stomach acid -- that means both histamine blockers
and proton pump inhibitors -- ask your pharmacist whether you'll also block the
effects of your other medications. "There are concerns that when you
decrease stomach acid, certain drugs aren't absorbed as well," says
O'Brien. Again, use your local resources. Talk with your pharmacist -- it's a
free, quick consult.
To get around this, she suggests taking calcium-based antacids a few hours
before or after your other medication. "Some drugs need an acidic
environment to be absorbed, so you make sure they're taken a few hours
apart," says O'Brien. But if you're taking a histamine blocker that
constantly reduces stomach acid, she says, some medications may not be absorbed
-- another good reason to talk with your pharmacist about all of the drugs
8. Consider your vitamins and supplements. Many people take a daily
vitamin and mineral supplement. But too much of a good thing -- like vitamin C
and iron -- can cause heartburn. A pharmacist is an excellent source of
information about different forms and brands of supplements you can try to
prevent the burn.
9. Consider timing. "The most effective way for some heartburn
medications to work is to take them an hour or half-hour before you eat,"
says O'Brien. Other heartburn treatment is taken once a day. So talk with your
pharmacist about when you usually eat, when you're supposed to take your other
medications, and when you have your worst heartburn symptoms. Some medications
have to be taken on an empty stomach, while others should be taken with
10. Practice patience. No matter how often you feel the burn, try to
cultivate patience as you work through the trial-and-error process of finding
the right solution for you. No two cases of heartburn are alike. Your solution
may not look like the guy's next door.