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How to Know When You Should Take Acid Reflux Medication

Sep 6, 2007
Acid reflux is medically referred to as Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). As the name indicates, this is characterized by the reflux of stomach acids into the esophagus. It is a very common problem and many of us would have surely faced the symptoms of acid reflux. Symptoms of acid reflux disease are heartburn, chest pain, regurgitation of food into the mouth etc. Often the burning sensation or the heartburn gets so worse, that it seems to be a heart attack. Occasional symptoms appear because of eating of spicy foods or indigestion. But if these occur 2-3 times a week, then it surely indicates that there is something wrong with the digestive system.

The most common trend that people follow is to pop up an antacid. Though there is nothing wrong in doing, and it certainly gives instant relief, but for how long?

Acid reflux is an internal digestive system disorder where the lower esophageal sphincter valve opens up under acidic pressure, causing the undigested food and acid to be thrown back into the food pipe, causing an irritable burning sensation in the throat area. This internal problem can be permanently treated only by surgery but in 95% of the cases, lifestyle changes and medications give substantial relief. Surgery is done in very rare conditions.

Acid Reflux Medicine and You

There are N numbers of reasons that can cause acid reflux problem. Some of these being wrong food habits, hiatal hernia, pregnancy, obesity, undeveloped sphincter valve as in case of infants, etc. Among all the above mentioned reasons, the most commonly seen is wrong food habits.

To eliminate the reason of wrong eating habits, one needs to follow an active lifestyle and develop a menu plan that needs to be followed religiously. By observing the symptoms and reaction of your body towards various food products, one may be able to judge which foods to be included and which to be eliminated. Though the guidelines that are compulsory for every acid reflux diet include, avoiding rich and spicy food, food cooked in excess oil or fat and excess carbohydrates.

In cases where lifestyle changes have little or no effect whatsoever on acid reflux problems, these can be combined with medications. Medicines for acid reflux can vary from over the counter medications to prescription medicines.
Nowadays, even some prescription medications are available in lower strength as over the counter medicines. However, it is always better to consult a physician before administering any drug for acid reflux relief.

Alternative approaches to treat Acid Reflux

One of the alternative approaches mentioned above is making lifestyle changes. The other approaches are avoiding bed at least 2-3 hours after meals, keeping the headboard of your bed inclined by around 30 degrees, sleeping sideways etc. Then there are herbal and homeopathic medications that seem to be side effect free and are considerably effective in treating acid reflux problems.

Though the alternative medications work quite well, but chronic acid reflux can best be treated using prescription medications suggested by doctor. The doctor may take some time to decide on the most effective medication for you before advising you for tests such as endoscopies, barium X-Rays etc.

Acid Reflux Medications and how they work

A good number of antacids are available over the counter and these provide instant relief from acid reflux by stopping the burning sensation or heartburn. But regular use of antacids is not recommended. Mylanta, Gelusil are the most popularly used antacids. Then there is a group of medication known as H2 Block Receptors. These are not so fast in action as the antacids, but they work by reducing the amount of acid being produced by the stomach. Ranitidine, Famotidine, Cimetidine are some mediations belonging to this group.

Apart from these, there is yet another group of mediation which is known as the proton pump inhibitors which work by actually promoting the healing of the esophageal lining, caused by constant acid attack. Nexium, Prilosec are some drugs under this category.

Though, there are a number of medications that can be taken for relief from acid reflux, these are recommended for short term use. Each of these medications comes with its own set of side effects, most of which are upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting etc. The symptoms however, subside after a few days use. In cases where there can be prolonged trouble, the physician should be consulted.

Final Word about Medications

Medications are prescribed for relief from acid reflux problems. But it is to be kept in mind that lifestyle changes are a must and it cannot be compromised or neglected just because one is taking medications. Acid reflux, if chronic can cause a severe damage to the esophagus lining and can give rise to cancers of the esophagus. Medications should be judiciously used after consultation with a physician and in proper dosages.
About the Author
Cindy Heller is a professional writer. Visit acid reflux explained to learn more about acid reflux and pregnancy and acid reflux test.
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