GERD Medications Treatment Options
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Acid Reflux, Heartburn, GERD- they all refer to one and the same bothersome condition. GERD affects millions of Americans to date and is considered one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders.
Normally, once food particles have been delivered to the stomach by the esophagus, the lower esophageal sphincter (valve-like structure) should close to prevent regurgitation of food and stomach contents. In people with GERD, this is not the case. Due to unknown factors, the lower esophageal sphincter or the LES becomes unusually relaxes, becomes weak and unable to shut tight.
Acid Reflux presents with symptoms which can be misleading as a heart attack sign and symptom. It may present with:
- Heartburn that radiates to the shoulders, arm and jaw;
- Chest pain;
- Difficulty of breathing;
- Hoarseness of voice and sore throat;
- Especially the presence of a sour tasting sensation in the mouth which indicates acidic content.
Have yourself checked by your physician to rule out the possibility of a cardiac problem.
Treatment Modalities for GERD
Physicians most commonly take on drug therapy initially to identify if the patient will properly respond to the GERD medications.
There are over the counter drugs which may alleviate the signs and symptoms of acid reflux. These may include:
Antacids. Antacids help neutralize the acidic environment of your stomach. This prevents too much acid to be stored in your stomach thus lessening occurrence of acid reflux. Popular brand names are Maalox, Rolaids, Mylanta, etc. Take note that if you overuse these drugs you may experience diarrhea or constipation.
H2 Blockers. These are the famous GERD medications that end in –tidine. These drugs lessen the production of gastric enzymes or juices that are acidic. These drugs provide a more effective relief compared with antacids as they target the production of acids itself. Renowned brands are Ranitidine (Zantac) and Cimetidine (Tagamet). Take note however that H2 Blockers will not cure esophageal tears or damaged tissues.
Proton Pump Inhibitors. This works the same way H2 Blockers does plus one very important function- that is, PPIs helps heal damaged esophageal tissues. These are the –prazole drugs like Esomeprazole (Nexium) and Lansoprazole (Prevacid).
Prescription Strength Medications. In cases where these over the counter GERD medications do not work the way they should, the next thing you have to do is inform your physician about it because he or she might prescribe some stronger forms of these drugs. These are called prescription-strength medications and these can be bought only through prescriptions.
Prokinetic Drugs. Since one of the common problems of people with GERD is the weakness of the lower esophageal sphincter, prokinetic drugs may be prescribed. Prokinetic drugs promote faster gastric emptying and strengthen the sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus.
These medications should treat your GERD problems; however, if the problem is still unresolved after trying out these drugs, the next best thing that your doctors can advice is surgery. Surgical procedures like Nissen Fundoplication, scarring, Gastroplication, etc can be performed if the person has submitted himself to such procedures.
GERD is a highly manageable disease and the key to managing the signs and symptoms associated with this disorder is through complying with your doctor’s advice on how you take GERD medications and how you can modify your lifestyle and diet.