Heartburn Medication and Treatment

Effective and safe heartburn medication includes antacids and acid inhibitors (H2-receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors).

They can prevent heartburn from turning into more serious disease.

Antacids are milder and normally cause fewer side effects than acid inhibitors.

Unless they are ineffective, antacids should be used before trying acid inhibitors. Antacids include Maalox, Mylanta, Tums, or Rolaids.

Unlike antacids, acid inhibitors do not neutralize stomach acid. Instead, they work by preventing the formation of acid. They decrease secretion of acid by about 50-80%.

Over the Counter heartburn medication includes the following:

  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Famotidine (Pepcid)
  • Nizatidine (Axid)
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)

    Tagamet, whose generic name is cimetidine, is metabolised in the liver. It can interact with other medication such as theophylline, which is used for breathing. It can also interact with warfarin, which is used for inhibiting blood clots and phenytoin used for seizures. It should therefore be used with great care, by patients taking any of those medicines.

    Pepcid is used to prevent and treat stomach ulcers, heartburn, and gastroesophageal reflux disease.

    Prescription Heartburn Medication

    Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) are more powerful and are more effective in reducing stomach acid than the H2-receptor blockers. They are available by prescription. They inhibit secretion of acid by more than 90%. They include:

  • Nexium: It is normally taken once a day. It heals erosions in the oesophagus caused by acid reflux and heartburn. Heartburn symptoms are relieved for 24 hours after its intake. Its side effects include headaches, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain

  • Protonix: It heals erosions in the oesophagus and heartburn symptoms. It is taken once a day. Protonix is particularly effective for those who experience nighttime heartburn. Its side effects are headaches and diarrhoea.

  • Prevacid: This medication works by blocking acid pumps in your stomach. It suppresses the heartburn symptoms, and heals the damage done by acid. Its side effects are nausea, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.


    If prescription medication does not relieve your heartburn symptoms or if you have serious complications of heartburn, surgery may be needed.

    The surgery is called fundoplication. Its tightens the LES muscle.

    The stomach is tied in to prevent acid from flowing backward into the oesophagus.

    The surgery is successful for over 85% of people.

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