How do I Choose the Best over-The-Counter Acid Reflux Treatment?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 04 May 2020
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The best over-the-counter acid reflux treatment may depend on the severity of your symptoms, the length of time you want a treatment to last, and how long you can wait for symptom relief. An antacid may be best when you need quick relief that lasts for a short period of time. An H2 blocker may be better, however, if you can wait for up to an hour for symptom relief but want the effects to last for hours. Usually, proton pump inhibitors provide the longest period of relief, as their effects often last for 24 hours. They do not work as quickly as antacids and H2 blockers, however.

Depending on the severity of your acid reflux symptoms, you may find that antacids provide effective symptom relief. These over-the-counter acid reflux treatments neutralize stomach acids, which minimizes symptoms. Antacids are often available as chewable medicines, pills you have to swallow, or preparations you can drink. You may also find antacids as tablets you can dissolve in water or another type of beverage. In general, antacids may make a good choice for when you want symptom relief that is fast but short lived.

Over-the-counter H2 blockers are also effective for treating acid reflux. They work to minimize your stomach’s production of acid rather than neutralizing it. Since they work to reduce the production of stomach acid, they may provide longer symptom relief than you could expect from an antacid — often for up to 12 hours. This may not be the best over-the-counter acid reflux treatment when you are already having symptoms and need quick relief, however. These medications usually start to work within an hour of consumption but are not as quick-acting as antacids.

A proton pump inhibitor may be the best over-the-counter acid reflux treatment if antacids and H2 blockers do not provide adequate relief. As with H2 blockers, these medications work to limit the amount of acid your stomach produces. Though they take longer to act than antacids and H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors provide relief for a much longer period. In many cases, their effects last up to 24 hours.

Though there are many over-the-counter treatments you can use for acid reflux, preventing its symptoms may be a better option. You may do this by eating smaller meals throughout the day rather than eating three large meals. You may also avoid symptoms if you do not lie down right after you eat. Additionally, you may prevent acid reflux symptoms by avoiding acidic or spicy foods, coffee, wine, and chocolate. You may find that sleeping with your head elevated helps to prevent the symptoms of acid reflux as well.


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