GERD Treatment Options Can Be Found Over-the-Counter
Don't despair if you've been diagnosed with GERD; effective treatment options are available for controlling the disease. GERD, which is short for gastroesophageal reflux disease, occurs when stomach acid or bile flows back into your esophagus. The acid irritates the esophagus' lining and leads to symptoms such as chest pain, dry cough, a burning sensation in your chest, and food regurgitation.
Although GERD isn't life threatening, its symptoms can cause sufferers great discomfort on a daily basis. Your doctor may initially treat these symptoms with over-the-counter medications for acid control, such as:
- Antacids - these neutralize stomach acid and may provide you with quick relief. Still, antacids aren't meant to handle larger issues such as healing an inflamed esophagus damaged by stomach acid.
- H-2-receptor blockers - these medications include cimetidine, nizatidine, rantidine, and famotidine. They reduce acid production, and although they don't work as quickly as antacids, their effects last longer.
- Proton pump inhibitors - omeprazole and lansoprazole are proton pump inhibitors. Either is an effective GERD treatment because it can heal the esophagus and block acid production.
If these over-the-counter treatments don't bring you relief after a few weeks, consult your physician. Your doctor may offer prescription-strength H-2-receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors. He or she may also prescribe prokinetic agents, which help to tighten the valve between your stomach and your esophagus.
If these stronger GERD medications are also ineffective, or you want an alternative to long-term medications, you can look into a surgical procedure to treat your GERD. Procedures involve reinforcing your lower esophageal sphincter, or creating a barrier to prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.
Your physician can help you decide which GERD treatment is right for you.