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Medications for Acid Reflux

written by: Harry Sylvester • edited by: lrohner • updated: 10/15/2010

Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid rises up into the esophagus, leading to an uncomfortable and sometimes painful burning feeling in the chest. Discover several acid reflux medications that can alleviate the pain along with their side effects.

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    What is Acid Reflux?

    Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is the rise of stomach acid back into the esophagus, the tube from the mouth to the stomach. The condition leads to a burning feeling in the chest known as heartburn. This occurs because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close tightly, enabling stomach acid to regurgitate into the esophagus and inflame it. If you get the burning feeling or heartburn, you might alleviate the pain with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) as natural treatment, or several other recommended medications that may succeed in neutralizing excessive stomach acid. Always consult your doctor to find the best medication.

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    Types of Medications

    There are three basic types of medications for this condition including:

    • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a group of agents for reducing the production of stomach acid by preventing the enzyme in the stomach wall from generating acid.
    • H2 Blockers (H2 receptor antagonists) are a group of medications for decreasing the production of stomach acid by allowing the stomach juices to be less acidic. It is so effective that stomach juices that enter the esophagus become less dangerous.
    • Antacids are a group of medications for neutralizing the stomach acid.

    The following are some acid reflux medications that can be useful to allay your excruciating pain in the chest:

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    Nexium (Generic Name: esomeprazole)

    Nexium, known as the purple pill, is one of popular drugs in the U.S. that functions as a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). It can obstruct the enzyme to produce stomach acid, allowing the acidic production to decrease. Eventually this medication leads stomach and esophagus to function normally. Therefore, it can alleviate heartburn, trouble sleeping, cough, and difficulty swallowing. In addition, this drug might prevent you from acid damage to the digestive system. The doctor may recommend taking this by mouth at least one hour before your meal once daily.

    Several side effects that might occur include headache, diarrhea, rash, lethargy, nausea, and vomiting.

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    Prevacid (Generic Name: lansoprazole)

    As a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), Prevacid can lower excessive production of stomach acid, which in turn would alleviate heartburn, cough, and difficulty swallowing. It would keep ulcers and esophageal cancer at bay, as this medicine may avoid the digestive system to have acid damage. Swallow the capsule instead of chewing it. Your doctor might suggest you take it each day before meals if a burning sensation usually happens after a meal.

    You need to consult your doctor if these side effects occur including stomachache, sore tongue, lethargy, and hands or feet numbness. Several allergic reactions such as rash and itching might follow medication.

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    Which Acid Reflux Medications are Effective?Acid reflux might happen since stomach acid regurgitates into the esophagus and inflame it. Some acid reflux medications might heal the pain effectively. This Bright Hub article looks at some available drugs with their side effects.
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    Prilosec Oral (Generic Name: omeprazole)

    Like other PPIs, Prilosec can prevent the enzyme in the stomach wall from producing excessive acid. It serves well to treat heartburn and acid-induced inflammation. When it comes to treating heartburn, you can take the normal dose of 20 mg daily for about two weeks, or consult your doctor to determine the right dose for you. In addition, the recommended dose for acid reflux is 20 to 40 mg daily.

    Side effects include headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. An allergic reaction such as rash might occur at times.

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    Zantac (Generic Name: ranitidine liquid)

    Zantac works best to prevent and treat problems associated with the esophagus including a burning sensation and stomachache. This medicine is one of H2 histamine blockers performing to lower acid in the stomach. It would deactivate the production of acid as well. Your doctor may suggest you take it orally once or twice daily with or without food, even though you can take four times a day under some circumstances.

    Side effects include hallucinations, depression, blurred vision, lethargy, diarrhea, headache, and yellowing skin or eyes. Beware of some allergic reactions that might occur including rash, difficulty breathing, and itching.

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    Antacid (Generic Name: aluminum/magnesium antacid/simethicone)

    Oral antacids cannot prevent the stomach from producing acid, but it can instead perform to reduce existing acid in the stomach. They also help to reduce other symptoms like bloating and belching. You can take it orally with or without food after meals and before bedtime. It is recommended taking liquid antacid because it can work more effectively than capsules or tablets. Possible side effects include headache, diarrhea, constipation, muscle weakness, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.

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    Maalox Advanced (Generic Name: calcium carbonate/simethicone chewable)

    This antacid performs well to treat symptoms of heartburn and extra gas, and significantly reduces extra acid in the stomach. You take this medication orally as recommended. Avoid exceeding or doubling dose for more than two weeks if your doctor does not prescribe it.

    Side effects include constipation, weight loss, nausea, and headache. Some allergic reactions like rash and itching can occur as well.

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    References

    Healthcentral.com: Acid Reflux (GERD) Drug Information - http://www.healthcentral.com/acid-reflux/find-drug.html

    WebMD.com: GERD - http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/tc/gastroesophageal-reflux-disease-gerd-medications

    Drugs to Treat Heartburn and Stomach Acid Reflux: The Proton Pump Inhibitors - http://www.consumerreports.org/health/resources/pdf/best-buy-drugs/PPIsUpdate-FINAL.pdf