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:
A physical exam for hiatal hernia is similar to that for heartburn, with two additions: X-rays may be ordered to show the hernia, and if anemia is a concern, a blood sample may be taken to check your red blood cell count.
A hiatal hernia can be diagnosed with a specialized X-ray study that allows visualization of the esophagus and stomach (barium swallow) or with endoscopy (a test that allows the doctor to view the hernia directly). An esophageal manometry test (pressure study) may also be performed...
Antacids neutralize stomach acid to help relieve heartburn, sour stomach, acid indigestion, and stomach upset. They are also occasionally recommended to help relieve the pain of ulcers. 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 Prevacid 24HR, Prilosec OTC, and Zegerid OTC 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 then a couple of weeks, you should see your doctor.
Combination Antacid/Acid Reducer for Heartburn
There is only one drug of this type, Pepcid Complete. It combines the acid-neutralizing capability of an antacid and the acid-reducing actions of an acid-blocker drug.
So Which Works Best for Heartburn?
All of these over-the-counter medicines, to a varying degree, can be effective in relieving the heartburn 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 prescription medicine.