ZocdocAnswersWhich medicines help combat acid reflux?

Question

Which medicines help combat acid reflux?

Do OTC drugs help prevent reflux? I have it bad, my whole family does. 25 yr old woman.

Answer

Acid reflux is a common problem among many patients. It is caused by reflux of the gastric contents of the stomach into the esophagus or possibly above the esophagus and into the larynx. About 50% of Americans experience chronic heartburn. You should discuss this with your primary care physician to see if you may benefit from treatment. The signs and symptoms of reflux include heartburn after meals, supine reflux meaning you feel the reflux while lying down, choking spells at night, regurgitation of food, hoarseness. It can also give the feeling of something in your throat though there may not be anything there. Reflux is diagnosed based on history, barium swallow, pH probe which measures the acidity. It can also be diagnosed by direct visualization with flexible laryngoscopy which can look at the effects of the reflux on the larynx or the voice box. Acid reflux is treated by behavioral modifications as well as medications. Elevating the head of bed at night, avoiding eating at least 3 hours prior to bedtime, decreasing caffeine intake, decreasing alcohol and decreasing fatty foods can all be beneficial in improving acid reflux. The medications used to treat reflux include proton pump inhibitors, omeprazole, lansoprazole. Omeprazole is the generic for prilosec which is now available over the counter. Lansoprazole is the generic for prevacid which is also available over the counter. These medications block the proton pump in the stomach which is responsible for acid production. H2 blockers are also used to treat reflux. They block histamine from its receptor which decreases acid. These medications include famotidine which is Pepcid and ranitidine which is Zantac. If you think you should be on an antacid, discuss this with your primary care physician before beginning a regimen.

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