Some people can manage their acid reflux symptoms by making lifestyle changes, such as losing extra weight or avoiding spicy foods. But for others, these modifications simply aren’t enough. If you suffer from frequent heartburn despite making efforts to relieve it naturally, it’s time to see your doctor to discuss more effective treatment options. The following are some therapies to consider at your next appointment:
- Antacids – In mild cases of heartburn, over-the-counter antacids may be sufficient to control your symptoms. These medications are available in tablet and liquid form, and they work quickly to provide on-the-spot relief for surprise episodes of heartburn. Most over-the-counter antacids are safe to take during pregnancy, making them a great option for women dealing with pregnancy-related heartburn.
H2 Blockers – Commonly known by brand names such as Pepcid, Zantac and Tagamet, H2 blockers provide several hours of relief from acid reflux symptoms. These medications reduce acid production by inhibiting H2 receptors in the cells of the stomach. H2 blockers typically start to relieve heartburn symptoms within 30 minutes.
- PPIs – Proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, are the strongest and most effective drugs for relieving severe acid reflux. Available under names like Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid, these drugs block enzymes in the stomach wall to reduce acid production. PPIs take longer than other heartburn medications to provide relief, taking up to four days to reach full effectiveness.
- Natural remedies – Some patients find that homeopathic remedies greatly reduce their acid reflux symptoms. Ginger root, slippery elm, aloe vera, and apple cider vinegar are just a few all-natural treatments that are believed to alleviate heartburn.
- Surgery – If your digestive symptoms are severe, or if they have not responded to medications and lifestyle modifications, your doctor may recommend surgery as a more permanent treatment option. Many anti-reflux surgeries are now available using minimally invasive technology, making these procedures incredibly safe with short recovery times.
Self-medicating chronic heartburn is never a good idea, even if medications are available over-the-counter. Many of these medications are only meant to be used for two-week course of treatment and can produce serious health complications if taken long-term. Talk to your doctor about your digestive symptoms and discuss a comprehensive treatment plan that will provide safe, effective relief.