Medication for GERD
Classes of GERD medication include antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and foaming agents. The one your doctor recommends will depend on the severity of your symptoms. For some people, nonprescription medicines may be enough, especially if combined with changes in diet and lifestyle. If lifestyle changes and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs do not improve symptoms, your doctor may prescribe additional medication or combine medications for greater effect.
If medicine is necessary to treat your GERD, the one that your doctor recommends will depend partly on how severe your symptoms are. For some people, nonprescription drugs may be enough to control their GERD symptoms, especially if combined with changes in diet and lifestyle. However, these may not be enough. At this point, your doctor may prescribe additional medication.
The five classes of drugs that are most commonly recommended for the treatment of GERD include:
Antacids, such as Alka-Seltzer®, Maalox®, Mylanta®, Pepto-Bismol®, Rolaids®, and Riopan®, are usually the first drugs recommended for mild symptoms of GERD. Many brands on the market use different combinations of three basic salts -- magnesium, calcium, and aluminum -- with hydroxide or bicarbonate ions to neutralize the acid in your stomach.
Antacids, however, have side effects. Magnesium salt can lead to diarrhea, and aluminum salts can cause constipation. Aluminum and magnesium salts are often combined in a single product to balance these effects. Calcium carbonate antacids, such as Tums®, Titralac™, and Alka-2®, can also be a supplemental source of calcium. However, they can cause constipation as well.
Foaming agents, such as Gaviscon®, work by covering your stomach contents with foam to prevent reflux. These drugs may help those who have no damage to the esophagus.