Treatment for Heartburn or GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease)

Instead of Nexium (esomeprazole), Prevacid (lansoprazole), Zegerid (omeprazole/sodium bicarbonate), or Protonix (or generic pantoprazole)

Go OTC For occasional heartburn, try antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, and Tums, or acid-reducing drugs such as Pepcid AC (famotidine), or Zantac (ranitidine). If you’ve got GERD, try Prilosec OTC (or generic omeprazole) or Prevacid 24HR (lansoprazole)

Save as much as $192 a month

Why switch? If you get occasional heartburn, nonprescription antacids will probably give you relief. But if your doctor has diagnosed GERD, she might prescribe a proton pump inhibitor, or PPI, such as Nexium, Prevacid, Protonix, or Zegerid, which studies have found to be similarly effective. Research has also shown that Prilosec and OTC versions of Prevacid will work just as well as the pricier prescription PPIs. PPIs work by blocking an enzyme necessary to make acid in the stomach. But don’t take them without a GERD diagnosis from your doctor; they’re not meant for short-term relief.

When to see a doctor If you have heartburn twice a week or more for a few weeks or if drugs like Mylanta, Pepcid, or Zantac don’t provide the relief you need, make that doctor appointment. Also talk with your doc if you’re taking antibiotics or an anticoagulant like Plavix after having a heart attack; a blood-thinner such as Coumadin (warfarin); or benzodiazepines such as Valium (diazepam) for anxiety, because they can interact with PPIs. In the case of Plavix, taking a PPI could actually reduce the effectiveness of the drug and put you at risk of having another heart attack. and PPIs can increase the effects of Valium (and generic diazepam) and Coumadin (and generic warfarin).

Prevent it in the first place Try eating smaller meals and avoid lying down for at least 3 hours after eating. Losing weight and avoiding alcohol can also help.

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