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Heartburn OTC – Prescriptions for Heartburn

A Healthy Stomach Produces Just Enough Acid to Properly Digest Your Food

If you are taking OTC (over the counter) and prescription medications for heartburn, Acid Refux or GERD and have developed new symptoms such as nausea, constipation, diarrhea and acute or chronic heartburn; autoimmune, systemic or skin disorders consider these medications as the possible source. It is exceptionally rare that an individual will have “too much” acid in their stomach. If you are experiencing occasional heartburn the cause is most likely too little acid (Hypochlorhydria) in your stomach brought on by a poor diet which slows digestion or by constipation which is affecting your LES (lower esophageal sphincter) or by other controllable habits.

Pharmaceutical medications work by either neutralizing or reducing the production of essential stomach acid. If you begin taking these medications on a regular basis you can develop what is essentially an addiction to them, because the more stomach acid that you reduce, the more likely your LES will become compromised and lose its ability to function properly at all. Many of the medications I list here are prescribed to “heal” the LES, yet in the long run are basically causing it to relax to the point where it is rendered incapable of proper functioning, turning occasional heartburn into acute GERD. (It is also important to be aware that the use of H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors block the absorption of calcium and can lead to bone loss and osteoporosis. They can also cause the inability to absorb vitamin B12 which can cause a long list of health problems including IBS like symptoms.)

Below, I have listed the active ingredient in available OTC and prescription medications followed in parenthesis by the name brand that contains it.

Acid Neutralizers (OTC medications)

Aluminum, calcium and magnesium based medications work neutralizing the acid which naturally occurs in the stomach. They are recommended by doctors and the companies that manufacture them for slight or occasional bouts of heartburn (some active chemical ingredients are used in combinations in some name brands):

  • Alumina, aluminum carbonate, aluminum hydroxide (Amphojel, Basaljel,Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta)
  • Calcium carbonate (Alka-Mints, Rolaids, Tums)
  • Magaldrate (Lowsium, Riopan)
  • Magnesium Carbonate, Magnesium Trisilicate, Magnesium Hydroxide (Gaviscon, Gelusil, Maalox, Mylanta, Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia)
  • Sodium bicarbonate (Alka-Seltzer)

    Histamine receptor antagonists (H2RAs or H2 blockers) act as blocking agents against histamine. Histamine plays an important role in the healthy production of stomach acid.

    H2 receptor antagonist medications: (OTC medications)

  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Famotidine (Pepcid ac)
  • Nizatidine (Axid)

    Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) reduce the production of stomach acid by acting as a blocking agent against the enzyme in the wall of the stomach that produces acid.

    Proton Pump Inhibitors (Prescription medications)

  • Omeprazole (Prilosec)
  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
  • Rabeprazole (Aciphex)
  • Pantoprazole (Protonix)
  • Esomeprazole (Nexium)

    The purpose of this article is to inform you of the dangers of taking pharmaceutical drugs for occasional heartburn. There are simple actions you can easily choose to take to avoid the spiraling effects of pharmaceutical medications for heartburn or “acid stomach” simply by eating healthy foods, clearing your life of high stress and using simple home remedies for heartburn. You can make the choice to rely on living well as the alternative to putting your life in the hands of medications that could in the long run create chronic health problems. If you have already become “addicted” to any of the medications listed here as I have, there are ways to begin the process of a health and gradual “withdrawal.” Join me on the road to independence, health and happiness as I add new informative articles each week!

    *Please know that I am not a medical doctor or a health practitioner. I cannot diagnose your stomach problems nor can I guarantee a cure. I am here to share my knowledge, which applications have worked for me and to offer suggestions of where you may go physically, emotionally and spiritually for healing and self-empowerment. If you choose to explore alternative medicine, do not independently stop taking your prescribed medications. Always consult with your current doctor as well as your new practitioner when changing your medical program.

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