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Acid Reflux Disease (GERD) (cont.)

What nonprescription (over-the-counter, OTC ) medications treat acid reflux?

Over-the-counter medications also may help relieve your symptoms. Check with your health-care professional before trying any of these.

Antacids (Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta, and Tums): These are effective when taken 1 hour after meals and at bedtime because they neutralize acid already present.

  • Some are combined with a foaming agent. Foam in the stomach helps prevent acid from backing up into the esophagus.
  • These agents are safe to use every day over a few weeks, but if taken over a longer period can cause side effects:
    • Diarrhea
    • Impaired metabolism of calcium in the body
    • Build-up of magnesium in the body, which can damage the kidneys
  • If you use these daily for more than 3 weeks, inform your health-care professional.

Histamine-2 receptor blockers (H2-blockers) prevent acid production.

  • H2-blockers are effective only if taken at least 1 hour before meals because they don't affect acid that is already present.
  • Common H2-blockers are cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), ranitidine (Zantac), and nizatidine (Axid).

If self-care and treatment with nonprescription medication does not work, your health-care professional likely will prescribe one of a class of stronger antacids. This therapy may be needed only for a short time or over a longer period while you make gradual changes in your lifestyle.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/12/2015
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease »

Gastroesophageal reflux is a normal physiological phenomenon experienced intermittently by most people, particularly after a meal.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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