Gastroesophageal reflux disease

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources

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What is Heartburn?

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Treatments for Heartburn

  • Antacids: Antacids start to work almost immediately to neutralize stomach acid which helps relieve heartburn. Overuse of such antacids can cause other problems including diarrhea or constipation.
       
    • Examples: Gelusil; Maalox; Mylanta; Rolaids; Tums
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  • H-2 receptio blockers: These acid production reducing medications can help reduce your heartburn for longer than antacids, although they take longer to start working. Some of the stronger versions require a prescription so consult your doctor if you think this may be beneficial for you.
       
    • Examples: cimetidine (Tagamet HB); famotidine (Pepcid AC); nizatidine (Axid AR); ranitidine (Zantac 25, Zantac 75, Zantac 150)
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  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): These medications reduce acid production in the stomach and allow time for the esophagus to heal.
       
    • Examples: lansoprazole (Prevacid 24 HR); omeprazole (Prilosec OTC)
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Home Remedies for Heartburn

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Extra weight can push your stomach upwards towards the esophagus increasing the likelihood of heartburn.
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  • Elevate your head and shoulders as you sleep: If you frequently have nighttime heartburn, elevating your head as you sleep can allow gravity to work for you. Try putting wood or cement blocks under the feet of your bed so that your head is elevated in relation to your feet. (Just using some extra pillows doesn’t have the same result – sorry!)
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How to Prevent Heartburn

  • Avoid trigger foods: Try to avoid some of the foods listed above that can cause heartburn.
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  • Eat smaller meals
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  • Don’t lie down immediately after a meal
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  • Avoid smoking: Smoking negatively impacts the muscles that close off your esophagus, making it easier for stomach contents to enter your esophagus and give you heartburn.
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Katherine Solem is a health writer and editor living in San Francisco.

Published: July, 29 2011

See Also:

  • Keep track of your symptoms with a free online gastro tracker
  • Get support and advice from other users in our GERD community forum
  • Get answers to 9 common heartburn questions
  • Learn about 17 easy ways to tame your heartburn with this slideshow