Of course, as with any medical condition, there are numerous ways of treating acid reflux or to give it its full title, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Here, we will look at medication.
Antacids and Alginates
Antacids are generally available without a doctor’s prescription and relieve the symptoms of acid indigestion and heartburn (dyspepsia).
The usual ingredients of antacids are magnesium or aluminum and they work by neutralizing the acid produced in the stomach which is the cause of indigestion and acid reflux. This group often contains sodium alginate which forms a protective coating over the lining of the gullet and the stomach.
Proton Pump Inhibitors
Proton pump inhibitors are drugs that shut down the system in the stomach called the proton pump. It is this system that produces acid in the stomach, the leaking of which into the esophagus causes acid reflux.
These drugs are taken in the form of tablets or capsules, as a powder to be diluted in water or as injections, and are used to treat stomach ulcers and a rather rare condition called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome as well as acid reflux.
Omeprazole and Lansoprazole are well-known varieties of this particular type of drug although there are several others.
Side effects are rare although they can include diarrhea or constipation, stomach pains, wind, drowsiness, dizziness, and headaches. In unusual cases, a severe allergic reaction can result. My personal experience with Omeprazole was seriously raised blood pressure and severe head pain. However, replacing Omeprazole with Ranitidine and taking blood pressure reduction medication for a couple of weeks sorted out that problem.
This group of drugs works by attaching to and blocking the H2 receptor area on stomach cells which, when stimulated by the naturally produced chemical, histamine, generates acid.
Ranitidine is the best known of this drug group, others being Nizatidine, Famotidine, and Cimetidine.
Side effects are few but can display as diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, and tiredness. Loss of hair has been reported by takers of Cimetidine and with nizatidine, sweating.
Both proton pump inhibitors and H2 receptor antagonists are used together with antibiotics to get rid of Helicobacter pylori infection which can cause stomach ulcers and duodenitis.