What OTC, prescription medications, and surgery to treat acid reflux?
There are several different types of medications available over the counter (OTC) or by prescription.
Antacids neutralize stomach acid and give immediate relief. Popular choices include sodium bicarbonate (Alka Seltzer), calcium carbonate (Tums, Rolaids, Alka-Mints), and aluminum and magnesium antacids (Maalox, Mylanta, Riopan, Gaviscon). Use antacids 30 to 60 minutes after each meal and at bedtime because they are more effective at these times.
People on a low sodium diet should avoid sodium bicarbonate. Calcium and aluminum can cause constipation, while magnesium antacids can cause diarrhea. Patents with kidney disease should avoid magnesium and aluminum antacids. Check with your pharmacist or doctor for any interactions with other medications you are taking.
Drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), theophylline (Theo-Dur, Respbid, Slo-Bid, Theo-24, Theolair, Uniphyl, Slo-Phyllin), anticholinergics, and calcium channel blockers should be avoided if feasible, but discuss discontinuing any medication with a doctor first.
Acid blocking drugs (H2-blockers)
The acid-blocking drugs (famotidine [Pepcid], cimetidine [Tagamet], nizatidine [Axid], ranitidine [Zantac]) are known as H2-blockers. These are available without a prescription. However, their strength may be inadequate.
Other valuable medications include metoclopramide (Reglan), which helps to empty the stomach more rapidly; or proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole (Prilosec) and lansoprazole (Prevacid).
If conservative therapy and medical therapy fail, surgery may be necessary. Traditionally, fundoplication, a procedure that serves to strengthen or recreate the muscular valve (lower esophageal sphincter), requires significant surgical work and hospital stay. Surgery or fundoplication also has been able to be done with an endoscope, which shortens the hospital stay and recovery.