Histamine 2 (H2) Receptor Blockers
- These medications work to reduce the amount of acid made in the stomach. Although they do not work as quickly as antacids, they provide longer relief for up to 12 hours.
- Examples of these include Pepcid AC, Tagamet HB, Zantac, and Axid AR.
- Although most people have no problems taking them, their long-term use can cause vitamin B12 deficiency and an increased risk of bone fractures.
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)
- This class of medications blocks acid production. PPIs help heal any damage caused to the lining of the esophagus.
- PPIs are much stronger than H2 receptor blockers and include Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix, and Zegerid.
- Overuse of PPIs can cause diarrhea, nausea, vitamin B12 deficiency, and an increased risk of bone fractures.
- This medication strengthens the lower esophageal sphincter muscle. However, it may cause nausea and fatigue in some people.
In rare cases, surgical procedures are required to help with severe heartburn symptoms.
Are There Home Remedies for Heartburn?
Apart from the above-mentioned treatments, patients with heartburn may try the following remedies.
- Reducing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle
- Smoking cessation
- Controlling the intake of carbonated beverages
- Eating sparingly and slowly
- Avoiding certain foods such as mint, fatty foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coffee, tea, chocolate and alcohol
- Stay up after eating. Doctors recommend to finish eating 3 hours before going to bed. This means no naps after lunch, late suppers, or midnight snacks.
- Avoiding vigorous exercise or a strenuous workout for a couple of hours after eating can curb the symptoms of acid reflux.
- Some medications such as postmenopausal estrogen, tricyclic antidepressants, and anti-inflammatory painkillers can relax the sphincter or irritate the esophagus. Identifying and curbing such medications after discussing with the doctor can curb acid reflux symptoms.
- Most acid reflux occurs during sleep. To prevent nighttime attacks, patients may need to position their heads at an angle higher than their abdomen. They must elevate the head of the bed to a minimum of 30 degrees, perhaps with a firm foam rubber wedge or by putting a wooden block under the bedpost. They must avoid lying down flat, especially right after eating.
What Type of Diet Can Fight Heartburn Symptoms?
Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition where acid from the stomach flows back into the esophagus causing irritation of the esophageal lining. Lower esophageal sphincter is a muscle that controls the passage between the esophagus and stomach. Sometimes, this muscle does not close completely, leading acid from the stomach to flow back into the esophagus. This abnormal condition is called GERD. A certain type of food or diet can help fight GERD.
- Plain water: Consuming water in sips throughout the day can aid the digestion process and curb GERD symptoms.
- Ginger: A diet or food with ginger can calm an irritated stomach. Ginger tea may also be included in the diet.
- Oatmeal: It has plenty of soluble fiber and may help people with frequent heartburn issues.
- Potatoes, carrots, turnips, and parsnips: They are full of healthy complex carbohydrates and digestible fiber that help curb acid reflux.
- Lettuce and celery: Acid reflux can make us gassy, and foods such as beans and dried fruits can cause GERD. Veggies such as lettuce and celery are low in calories and easy on the stomach, and they won't cause more gas.
- Fennel: It can help soothe an upset stomach that can be both a cause and symptom of GERD. Patients can roast fennel grains and have a teaspoon, sauté fennel leaves as a side dish, or slice it raw and add it to a salad.
- Fruits: Including fruits such as apples, pears, and bananas in the diet often help resolve GERD symptoms.
It is common to experience a little heartburn after eating spicy foods or drinking alcohol. It may feel like chest pain or burning after eating, a sour taste in the back of the throat, or hoarseness. However, long-lasting or frequent heartburn symptoms should not be ignored; they may indicate a more serious condition.