Your health care provider 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 of treatment 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 health care provider may recommend an over-the-counter medication called an H2 blocker such as Tagamet, Mylanta AR, Pepcid, Axid AR, and Zantac. Stronger, prescription-strength antacids are also available.
If heartburn symptoms persist, your health care provider can turn to drugs called proton pump inhibitors to reduce the stomach's production of acid. These include Dexilant, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, Zegerid, Protonix, or Aciphex. Some of these are available over-the-counter. Medicines that make the stomach empty faster may also be prescribed, such as Maxolon, Metozolv, and Reglan.
When all else fails, surgery may be required to repair the lower esophageal sphincter. This surgery can now be done using a minimally invasive laparoscope and requires only a short hospital stay.