Fast Relief OTC Acid Reflux Medications
If you are suffering from acid reflux,there are some non-prescription acid reflux medications used to treat heartburn. Below are a number of drugs that are available over the counter in drugstores but also even grocery and convenience stores.
These are not drugs per se but actually licensed as dietary supplements. They are often the first port of call for acid reflux sufferers. The most popular brand that you will probably recognise is “Tums”.
Typically, they come as small flavoured and coloured tablets that you chew in your mouth and swallow. If they look, taste and feel like chalk, that’s because they are! Tums and similar supplements are made of calcium carbonate which is basically the same thing. The difference is that supplements usually have some sugar added for flavour.
Calcium carbonate is an antacid as it raises the pH of your stomach. It reacts with hydrochloric acid in your stomach to produce water, carbon dioxide gas and calcium chloride.
Calcium carbonate should only be used for occasional heartburn. If you regularly suffer from heartburn then you should see your doctor and get a prescription for a PPI or similar.
Calcium carbonate is manufactured by a wide variety of companies because it is naturally occurring and not patented. Gaviscon, on the other hand, is a specific formulation that is patented and manufactured by only a few licensed companies.
Gaviscon is a mixture of acid neutralisers (including calcium carbonate) and buffering agents that, when drunk, line the stomach and the esophagus with a protective barrier. It is very effective and can be considered a good alternative to calcium carbonate alone.
However, it should also not be used on a regular basis by those who experience acid reflux symptoms every day. Such people probably have GERD and should see their doctor.
Zantac was formally a prescription-only drug but has been available over the counter for some time. It is the brand name of the drug, ranitidine, which is a type of H2 antagonist and therefore decreases the amount of acid in the stomach.
Outside the United States and Canada, ranitidine is combined with other ingredients including an antibiotic and so Zantac can be used to treat Helicobacter pylori infections.
Lately, Zantac and other H2 blockers have been surpassed by PPI drugs which are largely more effective at cutting acid production and giving relief for acid reflux.
PPIs are generally prescribed via a doctor but they are becoming increasingly available over the counter. PPI stands for “proton pump inhibitor”. Like H2 blockers, they decrease stomach acid production, albeit via a different and much more effective method. For these reasons, they are preferred over H2 blockers and are the most commonly prescribed acid reflux medications.
The most common PPI is omeprazole, also known as Prilosec or Losec. Formerly marked only by AstraZeneca, the patents on this drug expired in multiple countries over the last 20 years and omeprazole is now available generically.
There are many other PPIs available – most of which have a similar action to omeprazole and differ in structure by a few molecules here and there.
If you suffer from GERD and see your doctor then he will almost certainly put you onto PPIs to be taken daily.