Heartburn Health (cont.)

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Heartburn Medications

If the patient still has heartburn symptoms after lifestyle modifications and use of antacids, the health care professional may prescribe drugs.

  • Histamine-2 blockers decrease the amount of acid the stomach produces. Examples include ranitidine (Zantac), cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), and nizatidine (Axid). Many of these drugs can be purchased over-the-counter at lower doses, but patients will need a doctor's prescription for higher doses. They provide relief of symptoms within 30 minutes and are taken twice a day.
  • If heartburn persists, the doctor may recommend adding a drug such as metoclopramide (Reglan). Thisf drug empties food and acid quickly from the stomach so less acid can reflux back into the esophagus. Reglan also helps tighten the LES muscle.
  • If the patient still has symptoms, the doctor will then recommend drugs called proton pump inhibitors. Examples of these drugs include omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), esomeprazole (Nexium), and pantoprazole (Protonix). These compounds prevent the stomach from secreting acid. They are very effective and are typically taken once a day. These drugs are usually only prescribed if other drugs have not helped the symptoms. Many of these drugs can be bought OTC at lower doses, however, a doctor's prescription is required for higher doses.

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