GERD Medications -- What are Your Options?
GERD, which stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a chronic digestive disorder that occurs when bile and stomach acid flows back to the esophagus. Most sufferers take over-the-counter GERD medications to reduce their symptoms, but stronger prescription-strength medications are sometimes needed to control the symptoms.
If you have GERD, you probably experience a variety of uncomfortable symptoms -- chest pain, dry cough, sore throat, food regurgitation, and difficulty swallowing -- after you eat. Thankfully, there are several effective GERD medications that can help decrease these reactions so you can enjoy eating again.
Inexpensive GERD medications are available without a doctor's prescription at your local drugstore. These over-the-counter medications include:
- Antacids - these are believed to provide quick heartburn relief. Still, antacids won't heal an inflamed esophagus that has been damaged by excess stomach acid. Overusing antacids can also cause diarrhea or constipation; so only take the required dosage.
- H-2-receptor blockers - these include cimetidine, ranitidine, nizatidine, and famotidine. They work to reduce acid production. Although they don't act as quickly as antacids, they provide longer lasting relief.
- Proton pump inhibitors - these include omeprazole and lansoprazole. They block acid production and heal damaged tissues in the esophagus.
There are prescription-strength H-2-receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors, as well as prokinetic agents that strengthen your lower esophageal sphincter and empty your stomach at a faster rate.
Speak with your doctor if your GERD medications aren't providing any relief. Surgery can be an alternative for patients who need stronger treatment, or don't want to take medications throughout their life.