Acid reflux can happen to anyone at any time, causing heartburn. To treat the painful and uncomfortable symptoms, doctors usually prescribe medications that control the action and the production of excess stomach acids. Learn more about acid reflux medication over the counter remedies and how they work to treat your symptoms:
Antacids are the most common acid reflux medication given over the counter. They neutralize the acids in the stomach and prevent the symptoms of heartburn. The substance reduces acidity by increasing the pH level in the stomach. Antacids contain specific ingredients that interfere with the action that occurs during the process when the stomach produces too much acids. These ingredients include sodium bicarbonate, calcium carbonate, aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide, among others. Some formulations may also include ingredients that help relieve related symptoms such as gas. Antacids that contain sodium bicarbonate and magnesium hydroxide are the types that offer quick relief while those that contain aluminum or calcium carbonate tend to work more slowly. Some antacids also provide longer-lasting relief than others.
Some of the most popular brands of this over the counter remedy are Maalox, Alka-Seltzer and Tums. These are usually available in tablet, liquid and lozenge forms. When used to treat recurring heartburn, it is important to remember that this medication should be taken no longer than 14 days without the doctor’s advice. Doctors should also be informed if the patient is taking other types of medications since antacids might interact adversely.
H2 Receptor Blockers
H2 receptor blockers were only available on prescription before but are now sold as acid reflux medication over the counter remedies. H2 blockers work by blocking histamine2, a type of acid found in the human body. It is this chemical that triggers the production of acidic substances in the stomach. By blocking its production, these over the counter acid reflux medication help stop the action that histamine2 initiates, thereby reducing how much acid is produced in the stomach. H2 blockers are excellent options for people who also suffer from peptic ulcers. Some of its most popular brands include Tagamet-HB, Axid AR and Pepcid-AC.
Proton Pump Inhibitors
Proton pump inhibitors are another over the counter remedy that also inhibit certain actions in the stomach to prevent it from producing too much acids. As their name implies, PPIs inhibit the proton pump molecule in the stomach cells that supplies acids to the stomach. These molecules convert potassium ions into hydrogen ions which are acidic. If the molecules ‘pump’ more of these ions into the stomach, the environment becomes more acidic, which in turn leads to the discomfort associated with a heartburn. PPIs can stop this action from occurring, effectively inhibiting the secretion of acidic substances. PPIs are efficient in treating many gastrointestinal problems on their own or with other medications such as antacids and antibiotics. Although they all work in the same way, some PPIs have longer lasting effects than other formulations. Some PPIs available in the market include omeprazole (Prilosec and Zegerid) and lazoprazole (Prevacid).