There are a variety of heartburn drugs available over the counter to relieve symptoms. If these fail to relieve your symptoms, talk to your doctor about other available heartburn treatment options. He or she may want to evaluate you for gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
Non-prescription medications used to treat heartburn and other mild GERD symptoms include:
Despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. Some of the symptoms, however, are similar to those of a heart attack or heart disease.
Heartburn is an irritation of the esophagus that is caused by stomach acid. This can create a burning discomfort in the upper abdomen or below the breast bone.
With gravity's help, a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, keeps stomach acid in the stomach. The LES is located where the esophagus meets the stomach -- below the...
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 (more than two episodes per week) for 14 days. All of these drugs are also available in prescription strength. 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.
Possible serious side effects that need to be reported to your doctor right away include confusion, chest tightness, bleeding, sore throat, fever, irregular heartbeat, weakness, and unusual fatigue. Other, less serious side effects include mild headache, dizziness, and diarrhea, which are usually temporary and will likely go away on their own.
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 products, to a varying degree, can be effective in relieving the heartburn symptoms of mild to moderate GERD. 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 medicine only obtained with a doctor's prescription.