Before getting started with the treatments for acid reflux disease, you first need to realize that acid reflux is different from heartburn but it is related to GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. This condition is usually characterized by the back flowing of stomach acid or stomach contents to the esophagus. The sphincter is a muscular structure positioned at the end of the esophagus and works by keeping the contents of the stomach where it belongs. However, there are times when the esophageal sphincter is unable to perform its function properly. This can be due to genetic defects or due to a weakened esophageal muscle.
Because of this, the contents of the stomach, including bile and stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, thus causing an irritation to the esophageal lining and results to burning sensation within the chest and pain. However, mild and occasional acid reflux disease can also be due to excessive consumption of alcoholic, carbonated and caffeinated beverages, consumption of fatty and acidic foods, overeating, smoking, pregnancy and obesity. On the other hand, you should also know that acid reflux disease could be managed by consuming medications, modifying lifestyle and eating habits or opting for a surgical procedure.
Available Treatments for Acid Reflux
Several medications can be used as acid reflux remedies. This includes antacids, proton pump inhibitors, promotility agents, coating drugs, and gastric H2 receptor antagonist.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors – these types of medications are helpful in reducing acid secretion within the stomach. Proton pump inhibitors are usually taken orally at least once a day in order to treat acid reflux. Some of the commonly used proton pump inhibitors are Esomeprazole, Omeprazole, Lansoprazole, Rabeprazole and Pantoprazole. All these can provide quick relief against acid reflux although it comes with side effects like gas, diarrhea, headache and abdominal pain.
- Antacids – these are the most popularly used drugs for acid reflux and are usually consumed before a meal or once acid reflux symptoms are noticed. Antacids are helpful in reducing gastric acidity, as it can neutralize acid within the stomach. These drugs contain various forms of aluminum and can be obtained without prescription. Among the most commonly used antacids are Maalox, Mylanta, Gaviscon, Rolaids and Tums. However, take note that prolonged use of this drug can lead to constipation or diarrhea and magnesium accumulation in the body, which can result to kidney problems.
- Gastric H2 Receptor Antagonist –are antihistamines that are helpful in reducing the amount of stomach acid. Histamine is the known chemical compound that can increase the production of acid after a meal. H2 receptor blockers, on the other hand, prevent acid production and reduce acid secretion. This type of medication can be obtained with or without prescription. Some of the H2 receptor antagonist that you can opt for is Nizatidine, Ranitidine, Famotidine and Cimetidine. However, just like the other medications for acid reflux, this has side effects as well, which include diarrhea, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, dizziness and runny nose.
- Promotility Agents – these types of medications are used to empty the stomach fast and strengthen the LES. Some promotility agents that you can opt for include Bethanechol and Reglan. Cisapride is also a promotility agent but is no longer being used against the condition, as it is being linked to QT syndrome. Some of the common side effects of this medication are irregular heartbeat, constipation and drowsiness.
Sucralfate is another medication that can help coat the stomach and esophageal lining, thus providing protection against the damage due to acid reflux. Other medications that you can opt for against the condition include the following:
Most of these medications can be obtained with or without prescription while some cannot be consumed under certain medical conditions. Therefore, prior to the consumption of these, make sure to speak to your physician first for more information.
You should also take note that these medications cannot be used for acid reflux in babies or children. For acid reflux disease conditions in younger ones, physicians often recommend lifestyle and eating habit changes. However, these medications may be prescribed in case the condition is severe and if the condition is affecting the child’s growth. For this situation, it would be best to talk to a physician for the proper diagnosis of your child’s condition and to administer the most suitable medications for your child.
Antacids may be recommended for kids but it cannot be consumed for an extended period. This is because antacids contain aluminum and excessive absorption of it can result to various complications. Sucralfate is not proven safe for children as well but Lanzoprazole and Omeprazole can both be used on infants. With regards to H2 receptor antagonists, Ranitidine, Cimetidine and Famotidine are all considered safe and effective against acid reflux disease in children.
When administering these medications to your child, make sure to follow the instructions of your physician and do not go over the recommended period in order to prevent the side effects of the medications. If you want to be on the safe side, it would be best to follow an acid reflux diet instead of opting for these medications. You can ask your physician to devise an eating plan for your child in order to treat the condition. Learning what does acid reflux feel like is also necessary to easily determine if you are afflicted with the condition.