Acidity/Acid reflux/GERD can create an extreme amount of discomfort. The acid flowing back from the stomach creates irritation in the digestive system and esophagus as well. Heartburn erupting due to these issues can be significantly disturbing as well
Here are the top 5 types of OTC drugs that provide relief from acidity –
1. Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)
Proton pump inhibitors are commonly prescribed for GERD as they effectively reduce the production of stomach acid. The gastric H,K-ATPase is responsible for producing gastric acid in the stomach. It is the primary target for all PPIs, The PPIs are bases which block the H,K-ATPase and hence inhibit gastric acid secretion in the body.
2. H2 Blockers
Histamine-2 receptor blockers known as H2 blockers, such as ranitidine and famotidine, work by blocking histamine receptors in the stomach, thereby reducing acid production. They are effective in relieving GERD symptoms. H2 Blockers should be carefully picked as they will not be effective on Histamine Type 1 receptors.. The H2 blockers are less potent in inhibiting acid production than the proton pump inhibitors but, nevertheless, suppress 24 hour gastric acid secretion by about 70%
Antacids are over-the-counter medications that are probably the most used drug in resolving acid reflux, acidity or other GERD symptoms. Antacids include aluminum hydroxide and calcium carbonate that work by neutralizing stomach acid, providing quick relief from heartburn symptoms. Antacids neutralize the stomach acid by inhibiting pepsin (proteolytic enzyme)
Prokinetic medications, such as metoclopramide, enhance the movement of food through the digestive system and reduce the time for acid reflux to occur. They may be prescribed in certain cases of GERD. They also strengthen the LES (Lower esophageal sphincter). Once this is tightened, the acid is not able to flow back very easily
5. Alginate-Based Medications
Alginate-based medications, such as sodium alginate, work by creating a protective barrier in the stomach, reducing acid reflux symptoms. They are generally considered safe and may be used as an alternative or complementary treatment for GERD. They have sodium bicarbonate as well which acts as an antacid. Alginate medicines work two ways by neutralizing the stomach acid and also by not allowing the stomach acid to flow back
Can you take acid reflux medicine frequently?
Frequent heartburn, acidity or GERD (occurring more than twice a week) usually responds best to a heartburn medicine such as a proton pump inhibitor taken every day as directed rather than as needed at the onset of heartburn symptoms. However, these medicines are generally prescribed for a certain duration depending on the severity. It may last for 1 week-4 weeks. These medications should not be turned into a long-term habit.