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Treatment Tips for Occasional Heartburn Sufferers

If you generally have an iron stomach, here’s how to deal with occasional heartburn symptoms.

Over-the-Counter Heartburn Relief

For that rare attack of heartburn, what can you take?

One way to suppress stomach acid is to take an antacid with calcium carbonate, says O'Brien. "If heartburn is only intermittent, that's usually the first option," she says.

You'll find calcium carbonate in most over-the-counter antacids at the drug store.

Some calcium-based antacids add other ingredients, like magnesium or aluminum, so read the label to see what you're really getting. Common over-the-counter antacids include:

  • Tums, which is simply calcium carbonate.
  • Rolaids, which adds magnesium to ease the potential side effect of constipation with too much calcium.
  • Gaviscon, which is another calcium carbonate product. "This one gives some people better results," says O'Brien.
  • Maalox, which adds aluminum to calcium carbonate and comes in liquid or tablet form.

Antacids are fast-acting but also short-acting, says the AGA, so they're less useful for frequent or severe heartburn and don't work well as a preventive measure.

Call Your Doctor or Pharmacist If:

  • You're using more than an antacid package directs.
  • Your symptoms aren't relieved, no matter what you do.

And remember: when it comes to food, a little goes a long way. You can stop heartburn with small meals and snacks -- and hold the pepperoni pizza and cappuccino.

Reviewed on April 13, 2009

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