Heartburn is an uncomfortable burning feeling in the chest that moves up the neck and throat. This occurs once the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus.
Over-the-counter acid blockers and antacids are generally used for managing heartburn. Along with lifestyle and diet modifications, the symptoms of occasional heartburn can be alleviated.
How do antacids work?
Antacids work by neutralizing or reducing the excess stomach acid to alleviate heartburn. They are also used to reduce the pain of duodenal and stomach ulcers.
The antacids must be used as instructed by the doctor. Some antacids include magnesium or sodium bicarbonate that can work as a laxative. The usual side effects of antacids might include diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps and white or pale stools.
How do acid blockers work?
Acid blockers or histamine H2 blockers work by reducing the production of stomach acid.
These drugs must be taken regularly as long as directed by the doctor even if there is no pain or if the symptoms settle. The usual side effects include dizziness, headache and diarrhea.
The prescription-strength variants can block the stomach acid and treat duodenal or stomach ulcers, GERD and erosive esophagitis by lowering the production of stomach acid.
What are the prescriptions drugs?
In case the over-the-counter acid blockers and antacids could not effectively relieve the heartburn, the doctor might prescribe other medications such as:
- Prescription-strength acid blockers
- Promotility agents – works by speeding up the digestive process to reduce the amount of stomach acid that moves up into the esophagus
- Proton pump inhibitors – works by blocking the production of stomach acid
When to consult a doctor
A doctor should be consulted if:
- Heartburn does not seem to settle
- Individual has difficulty swallowing
- Individual has been using antacids for more than 2 weeks and still present