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GERD medications.

Q I have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and take an over-the-counter H2 blocker to ease my heartburn--but would a proton-pump inhibitor be more effective?

A H2 blockers--which include famotidine (Pepcid[R], Pepcid AC[R]), cimetidine (Tagamet[R]), and ranitidine (Zantac[R])--inhibit the action of histamine2, a naturally occurring chemical that signals cells in the lining of the stomach to produce acid. This makes the stomach juices less irritating to the esophagus if they flow back up from the stomach, as happens in GERD. Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce acid by blocking an enzyme needed for producing acid in the stomach. You also may be able to manage your heartburn by avoiding foods that tend to trigger it (for example, greasy or spicy foods, citrus fruits, chocolate, and alcohol), and refraining from eating within two to three hours of bedtime.

H2 blockers work faster than PPIs, but the effects don't last as long. If you are taking your over-the-counter H2 blocker more than three times a week, tell your doctor--it's possible you may need a prescription-strength H2 blocker or a PPI.

Judith Beizer, PharmD

Geriatric Pharmacology

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Title Annotation:ASK THE EXPERTS
Author:Beizer, Judith
Publication:Focus on Healthy Aging
Date:Aug 1, 2016
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