Your doctor may suggest antacids for occasional heartburn. Sometimes, more potent medications such as H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors may be needed, especially for persistent symptoms. Both prescription and over-the-counter choices are available. Rarely, surgery is recommended to prevent reflux and heartburn. The primary objective is to identify the cause of the heartburn so it can be avoided in the future.
Over-the-counter antacids are commonly used to neutralize stomach acid. If antacids don't quell the symptoms, your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter medication called an H2 blocker such as cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Mylanta AR, Pepcid), nizatidine (Axid AR), and ranitidine (Zantac). Stronger prescription strengths are also available.
If heartburn symptoms persist, your doctor can turn to drugs called proton pump inhibitors to reduce the stomach's production of acid. These include dexlansoprazole (Dexilant), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid), pantoprazole (Protonix), or rabeprazole (Aciphex). Some of these are available over-the-counter. Metoclopramide (Maxolon, Metozolv, Reglan), which makes the stomach empty faster, is sometimes prescribed.
When all else fails, surgery may be required to repair the lower esophageal sphincter. This surgery can now be done using a laparoscope and requires only a short hospital stay.