Acid Reflux Center

Acid Reflux Treatment

Acid reflux treatment
Before beginning any treatment plan, decide if your goal is to treat or prevent heartburn.  If your goal is to treat heartburn, you can select a product based on the onset and duration of symptom relief provided by the medication and the frequency and severity of your heartburn.  If you are able to predict when your heartburn will occur (e.g., heartburn brought on by eating or drinking certain foods or beverages), you may wish to use a medication to prevent heartburn. Nonetheless, the goals of treating heartburn are three fold:

  1. To prevent the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) from opening
  2. To reduce production of stomach acid
  3. To neutralize acid that is created

How to prevent heartburn
Heartburn sufferers might be able to avoid heartburn by making lifestyle changes. Changes in diet and lifestyle can provide relief for most sufferers of heartburn. In fact, you can prevent heartburn at home by following a few simple suggestions:

  • Avoid overeating
  • Avoid tight clothes and tight belts
  • Avoid foods and other things that give you heartburn
  • Avoid or quit smoking
  • Avoid stooping or bending for long periods of time
  • Eat 2 to 3 hours before lying down
  • Eat high-protein, low-fat meals
  • Lose weight or control weight
  • If you take naps, sleep sitting up in a chair
  • Place 6- to 9-inch blocks under the legs at the head of your bed to tilt it

How to treat heartburn
If you experience only occasional, mild heartburn, you may get relief from an over-the-counter medication. Remedies used to treat heartburn include:

Antacids - Antacids can help neutralize the acid that your stomach makes and are typically used to treat mild, occasional heartburn.  Antacid medication provide rapid relief of symptoms (within minutes) but relief only lasts for about 20 to 30 minutes when taken on an empty stomach.  Taking an antacid after a meal prolongs its effect for 2 to 3 hours. Antacid can cause diarrhea or constipation when overused. Antacids that contain both magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide are often recommended over those that don't.

H2-receptor antagonists - H2-receptor antagonists are used to treat mild to moderate, infrequent heartburn.  These medications begin to relieve heartburn within an hour and provide a longer duration of relief (6 to 10 hours) when compared to antacids. 

Home remedies - Several home remedies exist for treating heartburn, but these treatments provide only temporary relief. They include drinking baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) added to water or mixed with cream of tartar and water.  Keep in mind that using baking soda too often can damage to the stomach itself, because sodium bicarbonate neutralizes the stomach acid through a chemical reaction that releases heat.

Proton pump inhibitors - PPIs are intended for people who suffer from frequent heartburn (2 or more days a week).  This medication should not be used to treat mild or occasional heartburn.  Proton pump inhibitors usually take 2 to 3 hours to begin to relieve heartburn, but relief often lasts up to 24 hours with once daily dosing. 

For people experiencing mild heartburn, simple lifestyle changes may improve symptoms.  Infrequent heartburn sufferers can easily control symptoms with diet modifications and limited use of over the counter acid-blocking medicines. However, patients with more severe symptoms or esophageal damage usually need either long-term medications or surgery to cure their heartburn. For more information about heartburn symptoms, diagnosis and teatment, see your doctor or ask for a reference to a gastro-intestinal (GI) specialist.

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