There are a variety of heartburn medicines available over the counter to relieve symptoms. If these fail to relieve your symptoms, talk to your doctor about other available heartburn treatment options. Your doctor may want to evaluate you for gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
No matter what you eat, you worry that chronic heartburn will always be there. You've tried all the antacids, followed a bland diet, given up on certain foods completely. But still you wake up in the middle of the night, sometimes with pain deep in your throat, other times with a sore throat and trouble breathing, as if you were having an asthma attack. You try to sleep sitting up in a chair, and realize with dismay: This has been going on for years.
Antacids neutralize stomach acid to help relieve heartburn, sour stomach, acid indigestion, and stomach upset. Some antacids also contain simethicone, an ingredient that helps eliminate excess gas. Some antacids contain ingredients that can cause diarrhea, such as magnesium, or constipation, such as aluminum.
The FDA has approved the proton pump inhibitors lansoprazole (Prevacid 24HR), omeprazole (Prilosec OTC), and esomeprazole (Nexium 24HR) for over-the-counter use to treat frequent heartburn (two or more times per week) for 14 days. All of these drugs are also available as prescriptions. Take these drugs according to the directions on the package or as advised by your doctor.
If these medications don't relieve your symptoms, or if your heartburn symptoms get worse or persist for longer than two weeks, you should see your doctor.
Combination Antacid/Acid Reducer for Heartburn
Pepcid Complete combines the acid-neutralizing capability of an antacid and the acid-reducing actions of an H2 blocker and Zegerid OTC combines a PPI with sodium bicarbonate.
So Which Works Best for Heartburn?
All of these over-the-counter medicines, to a varying degree, can be effective in relieving the symptoms of heartburn. People who have more severe heartburn symptoms that aren't relieved with these medications or who have been using these drugs for more than two weeks should contact their doctor. They may need a stronger prescription medicine and testing to see what is causing their symptoms.