Treatment of Heartburn / Acid Reflux / GERD
Learn about acid reflux treatment options, including surgery and popular medications.If you have ever tried to get to sleep at night, but were unable to sleep due to a burning feeling in your chest or throat, then you have probably experienced acid reflux. Acid reflux commonly occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter doesn't close properly and stomach contents leak back into the esophagus. This is what is referred to as reflux.
Acid reflux usually feels like a burning pain in the chest that can move up to the throat. It often feels as if food is coming back into the mouth and leaving an acidic taste. Often acid reflux is worse after eating and can be worse when lying down.
About 25 million adults suffer acid reflux daily. Over 60 million experience heartburn at least once a month. Acid reflux treatment can help manage the condition, but not all acid reflux treatments are created equal. Finding a reflux treatment that works can be tricky, and deciding on a course of treatment should be discussed with your doctor. Often the treatment will depend on the severity and frequency of symptoms.
Medications are common in acid reflux treatment. The simplest of medications for acid reflux treatment are the antacids, which can be bought over the counter. Antacids are usually the first drugs recommended for acid reflux treatment. The antacids neutralize stomach acid so the reflux contains no acid to burn the esophagus. The main drawback of antacids in acid reflux treatment is that they empty quickly from the stomach and then the acid returns. Common over-the-counter antacids for acid reflux treatment are Tums, Rolaids, Maalox, Mylanta, Alka-Seltzer, and Milk of Magnesium.
A foaming agent is another acid reflux treatment available as Gaviscon. This works by covering the stomach contents with foam to prevent reflux. The foaming agent is an acid reflux treatment that is usually used along with another treatment method to be the most effective.
Histamine antagonists, known as H2 Blockers help to stop acid production. This acid reflux treatment prevents histamine from stimulating acid producing cells. The receptor they block is known as the histamine type two receptor. The H2 antagonists should be taken thirty minutes before meals to be an effective acid reflux treatment. The H2 blockers relieve the symptoms of acid reflux, but do not heal the inflammation of the esophagus that often accompanies acid reflux. The H2 blocking drugs are available both by prescription, and over-the-counter. The over-the-counter versions have lower dosages than those available by prescription. Common brand names for the H2 blockers are Tagamet, Zantac, Axid, and Pepcid.
Another acid reflux treatment medication are the Proton Pump Inhibitors. These drugs are only available by prescription, and are more effective than the H2 Blockers. The Proton Pump Inhibitors both block the secretion of acid into the stomach, and protect the esophagus from acid so the inflammation heals. Some doctors recommend the use of both an H2 Blocker and a Proton Pump Inhibitor taken at bedtime. The common brand names of Proton Pump Inhibitors in acid reflux treatment include Prevacid, Aciphex, Prilosec, and Nexium.
Recently, an implant was approved by the FDA as an acid reflux treatment for those who don't respond well enough to medication, but who want to avoid surgery. The implant is called Enteryx, and is a spongy solution that strengthens the Lower Esophageal Sphincter to keep the stomach acid from refluxing into the esophagus. The implant is injected during an endoscopy.
Many people prefer to use natural treatments over medications. Herbal treatments are another common acid reflux treatment. There are many available herbal treatments, but not all may work equally well. It does take longer to see results with herbs for acid reflux treatment. It may take up to two months to know whether a particular herb is having a therapeutic effect.
Herbs that decrease stomach acid in acid reflux treatment include slippery elm, flax, licorice, calendula, wild yam and meadowsweet. Care is needed in using licorice in those with high blood pressure and heart disease as it can worsen the condition.
Other herbs are known for relieving indigestion that can lead to acid reflux. One of these herbs is chamomile. It has been used for centuries for its calming properties. It is believed to lead to lower stomach acid because of its high calcium content.
Ginger can help with digestion and nausea. Peppermint is also good for digestion, and when used as a drop on the tongue can help with heartburn.
Lavender is known for reducing stomach acid and is a popular acid reflux treatment. Lavender is a popular herb and is known for healing properties over the entire body.
Digestive enzymes seem to be gaining in popularity for their ability to aid in the digestive process. Undigested food, especially protein can lead to acid reflux. Digestive enzymes used as acid reflux treatment can ensure the stomach has enough hydrochloric acid to digest the protein that can lead to acid reflux if left undigested. An enzyme supplement containing betain or pepsin, or papaya should be taken with meals to ensure proper digestion of protein.
Pineapples and lemons can also be used for acid reflux treatment. Pineapples support digestion, and have a high level of the enzyme bromelain, that helps prevent acid reflux.
Lemons dipped in salt can also prevent acid reflux.
Acid reflux treatment also depends greatly on diet. There are many foods known to trigger acid reflux. While not all foods will affect everyone in the same way, certain foods have a higher incidence of acid reflux symptoms. Foods that should generally be avoided include peppermint, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages, citrus juices, and tomato products. The affect of these foods may be mild to severe depending on the acid reflux sufferer. Others will find they have no problems with the foods listed, but will have problems with other foods. A good way to detect a connection with foods and acid reflux would be to keep a food journal for 2-3 weeks. Write down everything eaten and any symptoms experienced. Smaller, more frequent meals can also go a long way in relieving the symptoms of acid reflux.
Millions of adults suffer with acid reflux on a daily basis. Acid reflux is common but it is not a trivial problem. Acid reflux can greatly impact a person's quality of life. Fortunately, a wide variety of acid reflux treatments are available. With the vast array of prescription, over-the-counter, herbal remedies, natural treatments and diet and lifestyle changes, acid reflux can be treated successfully in most people.