Many over-the-counter medications are available to relieve the pain of heartburn. Options include:
- Antacids that neutralize stomach acid. Antacids, such as Maalox, Mylanta, Gelusil, Rolaids and Tums, may provide quick relief. But antacids alone won't heal an inflamed esophagus damaged by stomach acid. Overuse of some antacids can cause side effects such as diarrhea or constipation.
- Medications to reduce acid production. Called H-2-receptor blockers, these medications include cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine (Axid AR) or ranitidine (Zantac 25, Zantac 75, Zantac 150). H-2-receptor blockers don't act as quickly as antacids, but they provide longer relief. Stronger versions of these medications are available in prescription form.
Medications that block acid production and heal the esophagus. Proton pump inhibitors block acid production and allow time for damaged esophageal tissue to heal. Over-the-counter proton pump inhibitors include lansoprazole (Prevacid 24 HR) and omeprazole (Prilosec OTC).
According to the Food and Drug Administration, long-term use of proton pump inhibitors, especially in people age 50 and older, has been associated with an increased risk of fractures of the hip, wrist and spine.
Read and follow the instructions on over-the-counter medications. If you find over-the-counter treatments don't work or you rely on them often, make an appointment with your doctor.
May. 21, 2011
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