“These drugs suppress stomach acid,” says Dr. Spechler. “And people, in general, are able to tolerate them very well.” The catch is the side effects, especially for the PPIs.
Lose weight. When excess abdominal weight presses on the stomach, it can cause acid to rise up into the esophagus. There are several steps you can take to reduce or eliminate GERD symptoms without taking medication or undergoing surgery. Talk to your doctor before taking antacids if you have kidney disease.
This partially digested material is usually acidic and can irritate the esophagus, often causing heartburn and other symptoms. You may think you’re reaching for heartburn relief when you take a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI), a type of medication that helps block the production of stomach acid. PPIs are effective, and some-such as lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec)-are readily available over the counter.
Only if all else fails is surgery recommended. Because lifestyle changes and medications work well in most people, surgery is done on only a small number of people.
These medications, which include Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium, block acid production and aid in healing damaged esophageal tissue, so they should be taken by people who are having more frequent, severe symptoms. Medications to reduce acid production. These medications – known as H-2-receptor blockers – include cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine (Axid AR) and ranitidine (Zantac). H-2-receptor blockers don’t act as quickly as antacids, but they provide longer relief and may decrease acid production from the stomach for up to 12 hours. Stronger versions are available by prescription.
These medications are also good for protecting the esophagus from acid so that esophageal inflammation can heal. Magnesium hydroxide is not absorbed by the intestine.
These abnormal cells could lead to cancer of the esophagus, although this is rare. This summary describes GERD and explains research about types of treatment.
Who may not be able to take antacids
The side effects of Reglan can be serious and may include drowsiness, fatigue, diarrhea, restlessness, and movement problems. In prescription form (usually higher doses than the over-the-counter versions), H2 blockers can generally relieve heartburn and treat reflux, especially if you’ve never had treatment before. These drugs are particularly useful at alleviating heartburn, but may not be as good for treating esophagitis (inflammation that occurs in the esophagus) that is the result of GERD.