Skip to content

    Heartburn/GERD Health Center

    Select An Article

    Treating Heartburn With Over-the-Counter Drugs

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    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.

    Non-prescription medications used to treat heartburn include:

    Recommended Related to Heartburn/GERD

    Treatment Tips for Severe, Chronic Heartburn

    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.

    Read the Treatment Tips for Severe, Chronic Heartburn article > >

    Antacids for Heartburn

    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.

    Examples of antacids include:

    You should take antacids exactly as directed by your doctor, or according to the package label. If you are using the tablets, chew them well before swallowing for faster relief.

    Serious side effects can occur with an overdose or overuse of antacids. Side effects include constipation, diarrhea, changes in the color of bowel movements, and stomach cramps.

    Acid Reducers for Heartburn

    There are two types of drugs that work to reduce the production of acid in the stomach: histamine antagonists (H2 antagonists or H2 blockers) and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).

    Examples of H2 blockers available over the counter include:

    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.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on January 10, 2016
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Woman eating pizza
    How it starts, and how to stop it.
    man with indigestion
    Get lifestyle and diet tips.
     
    woman shopping for heartburn relief
    Medication options.
    man with heartburn
    Symptoms of both.
     
    digestive health
    Slideshow
    Heartburn or Heart Attack
    Article
     
    heartburn
    Article
    stomach acid rising
    Article
     
    Woman eating pizza
    Slideshow
    digestive myths
    Slideshow
     
    Extreme Eats
    Slideshow
    Bowl of pasta and peppers
    Slideshow