Treatments for Acid Reflux
Acid reflux treatment varies depending on the cause, but there are several different treatment options available that can keep heartburn and acid reflux at bay, or at least calm it down if it flares up. Of course, a proper diet and eliminating known-offenders when it comes to acid reflux, but when a change in diet doesn't work, there are several treatments for acid reflux available.
Over the Counter Medications
There are several different forms of over the counter medications designed to either neutralize stomach acid or reduce it. Antacids (like Tums) neutralize the acid in the stomach on contact and provide heartburn relief during an attack. These are great for symptom relief, but do nothing to counteract the reasons for acid reflux or heartburn. There is another type of over-the-counter medication, however, that may actually help prevent acid reflux attacks. These medications are called histamine receptor antagonists, also known as H2 antagonists or H2 receptor antagonists, (Pepcid, Zantac), and should be taken daily to prevent attacks. These medications work by reducing the amount of acid produced by the stomach, which may prevent or eliminate acid reflux in some people.
When acid reflux is the result of more serious conditions, such as GERD, your doctor may prescribe a stronger medication than you can buy at your local drug store. The most likely first choice will be a type of medication known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These medications prevent acid from being released into the stomach and intestines, eliminating heartburn and stomach upset caused by stomach acid. Another medication, available by prescription only, are promotility agents (Reglan), which work by speeding digestion in an effort to prevent acid from remaining in the stomach for long periods of time. This type of medication is usually only used after PPIs and H2 antagonists have failed to improve symptoms.
For those who prefer alternative treatments and home remedies over medications, there are several remedies that are thought to provide relief for acid reflux symptoms. These include baking soda, bananas, apple cider vinegar, chamomile tea, and ginger, as well as lifestyle adjustments that may decrease episodes of acid reflux. For example, waiting two to three hours after eating before going to bed gives you body enough time to digest food and lessens your risk of acid reflux in the night. Also, raising the head of your bed up by a few inches can prevent acid from creeping back up as you sleep. These combined with proper diet and some relaxation exercises is often enough to keep some acid reflux sufferers in the clear.
Some of the more severe cases of acid reflux may require surgical intervention to repair the valve between the esophagus and stomach, to prevent acid from seeping into the esophagus. This surgical procedure is called fundoplication, and can be performed with either a laparoscope or an incision into the abdomen. Recovery time after the operation will depend on the method used, and can range anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.