Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) - Medications
If you have been using nonprescription medicines to treat your symptoms for
longer than 2 weeks, talk to your doctor. If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the stomach acid
could be causing damage to your esophagus. Your doctor can help you find the
right treatment. Making lifestyle changes is still an important part of the
treatment of GERD when you are using medicine.
blockers, and proton pump inhibitors—either prescription or nonprescription—are usually tried first. Medicines can:
- Relieve symptoms (heartburn, sour taste, or pain).
- Allow the
esophagus to heal.
- Prevent complications of GERD.
- Antacids, such as Mylanta and Tums. Antacids
neutralize stomach acid and relieve heartburn. If you want to take medicine
only when your symptoms bother you, antacids are a good choice.
- H2 blockers, such as cimetidine (Tagamet) and famotidine (Pepcid). H2 blockers reduce the amount of
acid in the stomach. Most are available in both nonprescription and
prescription strength. If nonprescription H2 blockers don't relieve
your symptoms, talk to your doctor about trying prescription-strength medicine.
- Proton pump inhibitors, such as lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec). Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce the amount of
acid in the stomach. Some are available without a prescription.
Medicine may not prevent all of your GERD symptoms all the time. Even if you're taking an acid reducer every day, you may still have heartburn from time to time. It's okay to take antacids when you have heartburn like this. But if you feel like your daily medicine isn't working to control your GERD symptoms, talk with your doctor. You may need to try a different medicine.
Be sure to keep taking
medicines as instructed by your doctor, because stopping treatment will often
bring symptoms back.
- GERD: Which Treatment Should I Use?
What to think about
- Doctors usually try to choose a
treatment that uses enough medicine to control your symptoms but not so much
that side effects become a serious problem.
- Besides medicines, surgery is the
only other effective option to prevent GERD symptoms from coming back.