Prescription Drugs for Heartburn and GERD: Types and Brands

Frequent heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that occurs more than twice a week usually responds better to the heartburn medications you take daily rather than when you feel the heartburn. stomach. Most over-the-counter treatments are not meant to be taken daily for a long time. Consult your doctor to find out if you need prescription medicine for your heartburn.

Histamine-2 (H2) blockers for heartburn and reflux

In prescription form (usually higher doses than over-the-counter versions), H2 blockers can usually relieve heartburn and treat reflux, especially if you’ve never had treatment before. These drugs are particularly useful for relieving heartburn, but may not be as good for treating esophagitis (inflammation that occurs in the esophagus) that is a result of GERD.

Histamine stimulates acid production, especially after meals, so it is best to take H2 blockers 30 minutes before meals. They can also be taken at bedtime to suppress nighttime acid production. Examples of prescription H2 blockers:

Side effects may include headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, gas, sore throat, runny nose, and dizziness.

Note that the H2 blocker ranitidine was taken off the market in 2020 because it was found to contain carcinogens.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for heartburn and reflux

Depending on the source of your heartburn or reflux, your doctor may prescribe drugs that block acid production more effectively and for longer than H2 blockers, namely the family of drugs that doctors call proton pump inhibitors. PPIs are best taken one hour before meals. They include:

Most doctors do not believe that one drug is significantly more effective than the others in the management of GERD. These drugs are also good for protecting the esophagus from acid so that inflammation in the esophagus can heal.

Side effects may include headache, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, nausea, and gas.

Heartburn and Reflux Promoting Agents

Promoting agents work by stimulating the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, which can help prevent acids from staying in the stomach too long, and by strengthening the lower esophageal sphincter, thereby reducing reflux into the stomach. esophagus. Metoclopramide (Reglan) is a mobility-promoting agent used occasionally to treat heartburn associated with GERD. Side effects of Reglan can be serious and may include drowsiness, fatigue, diarrhea, restlessness, and movement problems.

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