Heartburn Treatment Options

There are wide-ranging treatment options available depending on the severity and individual conditions.

1. For Occasional Heartburn:

Over-the-counter medications can help relieve heartburn.

• Not meant to be taken daily for a long time.
• Not for frequent use, no more than twice a week. No longer than 2 weeks.
• Do not overdose or overuse antacids.

Side effects include:
• constipation, diarrhea, changes in the color of bowel movements, and stomach cramps

These medicines include:

• Antacids
o Help neutralize stomach acid. Antacids may provide quick relief. But they can’t heal an esophagus damaged by stomach acid.
o Examples include Alka-Seltzer, Milk of Magnesia, Alternagel, Amphojel, Gaviscon, Gelusil, Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, Pepto-Bismol, Tums
• Acid Reducers
o There are two types of drugs that cut down the production of acid in the stomach.
1. Histamine Antagonists (H2 antagonists or H2 blockers)
Examples of H2 blockers (over the counter) include: Nizatidine (Axid AR), Famotidine (Pepcid AC), Cimetidine (Tagamet HB), Ranitidine (Zantac)
2. Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)
Examples of PPIs include esomeprazole (Nexium 24HR), lansoprazole (Prevacid 24HR), omeprazole (Prilosec OTC)

2 For frequent Heartburn:

Sometimes, prescription-strength H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors may be needed, especially for persistent symptoms.

Side effects can include:
• Headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, sore throat, runny nose, dizziness, bloating, constipation, nausea, and gas.

Frequent heartburn or GERD when occurs more than twice a week responds better to medicines that can be taken daily.

Prescription strength Histamine-2 (H2) Blockers
This is prescription strength, unlike the OTC version, and does a better job of relieving heartburn and treats reflux for those who started using these medicines for the first time. Though these drugs are useful to reduce heartburn, they may not be as good GERD.

These include: Famotidine (Pepcid), Cimetidine, Ranitidine (Zantac), Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)

Prescription Strength Proton Pump Inhibitors
These can block acid production more effectively and for a longer period than the H2 blockers.

The PPIs include:
• Rabeprazole (Aciphex), Esomeprazole (Nexium), Lansoprazole (Prevacid), Omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid), Pantoprazole (Protonix), Dexlansoprazole (Dexilant)

Promotility Agents

The side effects:
• Can be serious and may include drowsiness, fatigue, diarrhea, restlessness and movement problems.
• One of the medicines ‘Propulsid’ was found to cause serious heart arrhythmias and was removed from the market in 2000.

This category needs a mention for one to be aware of ‘the potential cons’ of heartburn treatments. These agents work by stimulating the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract thereby preventing acids from staying in the stomach for longer periods as well as strengthening the lower esophageal sphincter thus reducing reflux upward into the esophagus.

These include: Metoclopramide (Reglan) & Propulsid

3. For Serious Heartburn and GERD – the Surgery:

You will be facing the risks associated with any surgery or operation and consider this as surgery and not just a heartburn treatment.
Also, one should not proceed unless there are high chances of success as sometimes the results of treating heartburn or GERD may not be considered, even with surgery. Of course, your age, medical conditions such as diabetes, etc. determine suitability. And as such, surgery is recommended very carefully and not often.

Attribution and References

(Content for this compiled article is from the authentic and trusted source on the web, the WebMD.  Refer to our DMCA policy)
• Understanding Heartburn: Treatment (WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on November 12, 2019)
• Which OTC Meds Treat Heartburn? (WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Gabriela Pichardo on January 26, 2020)
• Prescription Drugs for Heartburn and Reflux (WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on August 8, 2018)
• Heartburn Surgery (WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on June 25, 2019)