Posted on: 5 January 2021Share
Being diagnosed with GERD can bring about some mixed emotions. While it can be a little scary to know you have a chronic disease, it is also nice to finally find out why you've been dealing with painful, ongoing heartburn and digestive upset. The next step, of course, is finding a treatment that will work for you. Here are some of the most common medications your doctor may prescribe.
H2 Receptor Blockers
These medications work by blocking a receptor that tells your stomach to produce more acid. As a result, the key effect of these medications is a lower production of stomach acid. Lower stomach acid levels should help prevent your stomach contents from irritating the lining of your esophagus, thereby easing the symptoms of GERD. There are some H2 receptors sold over the counter, but if you are diagnosed with GERD, your doctor will generally prescribe a stronger, prescription-only form of this medication. It works best when you take it about an hour before eating; most patients need to take it twice a day. You should notice a gradual improvement in symptoms as you keep taking the medication. Side effects are usually mild and include headache, diarrhea, and a runny nose.
Proton Pump Inhibitors
Proton pump inhibitors work by directly blocking the means by which your stomach releases acid. They tend to have stronger action than H2 receptor blockers and are often prescribed to patients with severe GERD or those who don't get enough relief from an H2 receptor blocker. Proton pump inhibitors can relieve symptoms of GERD almost instantly, but patients need to take them for at least a month before the esophagus begins to heal.
Most of these medications need to be taken just once a day, which is convenient. Side effects include headache, vomiting, and nausea. Some patients experience vitamin deficiencies when proton pump inhibitors are taken long-term, so your doctor may recommend taking a multivitamin supplement alongside this treatment.
Baclofen is a muscle relaxer that can help encourage the esophageal sphincter to close more tightly, which will reduce the flow of stomach contents into the esophagus. It is usually prescribed in conjunction with either an H2 receptor blocker or a proton pump inhibitor for GERD treatment. Baclofen can cause drowsiness, so patients are usually advised to take it around bedtime. It does cause constipation in some patients.
Talk to your doctor about these and other GERD treatments. They can recommend the one that is best for you, often along with some lifestyle modifications that will help keep your GERD symptoms under control.