How Over the Counter Treatments Work

Once you have a good understanding of how over the counter treatments work, you’ll be able to make the best choice that will help you to effectively manage your heartburn and other acid reflux related symptoms

It’s important to remember that you should only treat your GERD with a medication AFTER you have made the lifestyle changes and adjustments that are recommended for reflux sufferers. Almost everyone has heard of, and almost anyone can take, an antacid. Some of the leading names that you might recognize are:

  • TUMS

  • Maalox

  • Rolaids Mylanta

These products are inexpensive, easy to take and since they are usually chewable, they can be taken with you anywhere. If used alone, antacids work best for those that experience heartburn only a few times a month. However, frequent sufferers can also use them with other medications to help with "breakthrough" heartburn.

An antacid works by neutralizing acid as soon as it reaches your stomach. Once neutralized, acid is not as capable of irritating the esophagus . Since most antacids come in a chewable or suspension formula, they are able to reach the stomach and provide fast, soothing relief within mere seconds.

Relief typically lasts for 1 - 2 hours, which means you may have to take the medication several times during the day. However, in a society that has become dependent on "instant gratification", the onset of action can’t be beat.

You don’t need to know how over the counter treatments work to understand why this class of products is the #1 seller for symptom relief.

There are two similar products that are classified as antacids but have an additional mechanism of action that distinguishes them.

Pepcid Complete, - A "combination antacid and acid reducer" works by reducing the amount of acid that the stomach produces and absorbing the excess. Like all antacids, it begins working in seconds. However, it can provide symptom relief for up to 12 hours.

Gaviscon - Not only neutralizes acid but it also creates a foam barrier that "floats" on top of the acid in your stomach causing it to work longer than a typical antacid.

H2 Blockers (or Histamine 2 Blockers) - Are absorbed into the bloodstream and go straight to the source to block acid production. Histamine triggers the release of acid into the stomach but an H2 blocker prevents histamine being able to work in that capacity. It "blocks" the histamine.

Most of them are taken once or twice a day, are capable of providing relief for 12 hours at a time, come in a prescription form for more severe sufferers and can help symptoms before, or after, they hit. Pepcid AC and Zantac are among the most popular sellers.

The strongest medication that you can use to treat your acid reflux is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). Until 2003, when Prilosec OTC was launched, you could not get a PPI unless you had a prescription.

Prilosec, which is the first and only PPI available without a prescription, reduces the production of acid in the stomach by shutting down or “inhibiting” the source, called a proton pump. When stomach liquids flow back into the esophagus, less acid is present and therefore less irritation occurs.

Unlike PPI’s that your physician may prescribe, Prilosec OTC should only be taken for 14 days. If problems persist beyond that, you should contact your physician.

Regardless of how over the counter treatments work, there is a product out there for you. You can get inexpensive, convenient and quick relief in a wide array of products that can be found anywhere. As with any medication, always seek the guidance from your physician before initiating a treatment regimen.

Now that you know how the over-the-counter treatments work, click here to learn more about the side effects of the over the counter treatments for your acid reflux.

Acid Reflux Remedies
Over The Counter Relief for Your Acid Reflux
How Over The Counter Treatments Work
Side Effects of OTC Treatments For Acid Reflux | Acid Reflux Drug Interactions
Precautions for OTC Acid Reflux Therapy | Herbal Remedies for Acid Reflux
The Three Most Widely Used Herbal Remedies For Acid Reflux
Herbal Recipes for Acid Reflux | Herbal Precautions for Acid Reflux
Herbal Side Effects For Acid Reflux

Return to Homepage from How Over The Counter Treatments Work