The diaphragm and a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter usually prevent heartburn. However, this muscle can sometimes relax and leave the food pipe unprotected from stomach acid.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
You may wonder if an OTC or prescription GERD medication would be better for you. The right choice depends on how frequent and severe your symptoms are.
Although generally well-tolerated, these medications might cause diarrhea, headache, nausea and vitamin B-12 deficiency. Chronic use might increase the risk of hip fracture. Surgery for GERD may involve a procedure to reinforce the lower esophageal sphincter called Nissen fundoplication. In this procedure, the surgeon wraps the top of the stomach around the lower esophagus. This reinforces the lower esophageal sphincter, making it less likely that acid will back up in the esophagus.
What Home Remedies Treat and Soothe Acid Reflux (GERD)?
Call your health-care professional when symptoms of GERD occur frequently, disrupt your sleep, interfere with work or other activities, are associated with respiratory problems, or are not relieved by self-care measures alone. It may feel like it’s difficult to swallow or feel a tightness in the throat when you have heartburn, and it may feel as if food is stuck in your throat or esophagus. Normally, a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus, called the lower esophageal sphincter, prevents reflux (or backing up) of acid.
Signs and Symptoms
Unlike antacids, which can only treat existing symptoms, Zantac can both treat and prevent heartburn. For prevention, Dr. Dobbs recommended that, â€œH2 blockers be taken prior to meals or at set times during the day, such as before breakfast and at bedtime.â€ Each tablet is roughly the size of an ibuprofen pill.
Although a PPI is more powerful than the H2 blockers, it is hard to know if it will be more effective for this type of discomfort. Secondly, the sodium content of baking soda is not healthy, particularly for people with heart problems, high blood pressure, or kidney disease. There are other antacids that will work just as well with fewer consequences.
â€œEven though people end up taking PPIs for years, the medication has been shown to change the pH of your stomach, potentially causing serious health effects. Studies have shown that long-term use of PPIs can increase your risk of developing kidney disease, osteoporosis, community-acquired pneumonia, and developing a bacterium called C. diff., which can cause severe diarrhea. Long-term use could also deplete nutrients in your body.â€ In other words, theyâ€™re best reserved for when nothing else works, and stick to the two-week course recommended on the back of the bottle. If symptoms come back shortly after, itâ€™s time to talk to your doctor.
There are a variety of heartburn medicines available over the counter to ease symptoms. If these donâ€™t help enough, talk to your doctor about what else might help — in addition to lifestyle changes.
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Three common options are lansoprazole, omeprazole, and esomeprazole. Esomeprazole – approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2001 – is the newest, but has a slew of impressive research behind it.
In one study, esomeprazole was found to promote faster healing than lansoprazole, and in another, a single dose was found to be more effective than a double dose of omeprazole. So we focused exclusively on esomeprazole-based medications, ditching other active ingredients. Like H2 blockers, PPIs prevent your stomach from producing acid, but theyâ€™re more potent and can cause dependency if used for extended periods of time. â€œPeople donâ€™t realize that you can become dependent on taking acid blockers forever, especially PPIs. If you skip a dose of a PPI, you could experience the worst heartburn of your life,â€ Dr. Liu warned us.