Medications for GERD
GERD can be treated with several types of over-the-counter or prescription medications. In many cases, medications may be used together to help treat your GERD. Your doctor will tell you which medication or medications is best for your symptoms.
Many over-the-counter antacids are available. These neutralize or weaken stomach acid. You don't need a doctor's prescription to buy them. You should take these antacids only when you need to, according to your doctor's advice.
NOTE: Side effects may include constipation or diarrhea. If you have high blood pressure, check with your doctor. Antacids can be high in sodium.
If antacids alone don't work, your doctor may recommend stronger medications called H-2 blockers. These medications suppress most of the stomach's acid production. Many of these medications are now available at a lower dosage without a doctor's prescription.
NOTE: H-2 blockers are mainly used short term. They may cause confusion in elderly patients. Some can also increase the effects of alcohol.
These medications reduce stomach acid even more than H-2 blockers. They are available over-the-counter and by prescription. Your doctor may prescribe one of these medications for you to help control the symptoms of GERD.
NOTE: These medications are mainly used short term. Side effects can include stomach or abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea.
Some medications strengthen the squeezing action of the esophagus. Some make the stomach empty faster. These medications are usually used with H-2 blockers. They are available only with a prescription.
NOTE: Prokinetics can have many side effects. They include tiredness, depression, anxiety, and problems with physical movement. They also can cause abdominal cramps, constipation, diarrhea, and the "jitters."
Medications to Avoid
Aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen reduce the protective lining of your stomach, which can lead to more irritation. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medications.