Acid reflux is a common condition caused by stomach acid travelling back up the throat. It causes a burning sensation (called heartburn) in your chest and a sour, unpleasant taste in your mouth.
There are many ways of tackling the symptoms of acid reflux. Some people can manage with simple diet and lifestyle changes, whereas other people rely on the help of prescription medications.
Keep reading to learn about the different types of treatments for acid reflux and which may be best suited to you.
Some people don’t require treatment to help with their acid reflux symptoms. Home remedies and diet changes can cause major improvements without having to rely on medication.
To see results, you should reduce the amount of calories you eat in a day. This is because to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume.
Home remedies include:
While it may seem counterintuitive, but drinking apple cider vinegar (ACV) is also known for helping to improve acid reflux. When drunk in small amounts (and diluted with water) it balances the pH of your stomach acid.
Try drinking a glass of water with a teaspoon of ACV before each meal and see if your symptoms improve.
Before resorting to proton pump inhibitors, you can try different over-the-counter remedies for acid reflux. The main OTC treatments are antacids and h2 blockers.
The following table summarises the qualities of each treatment:
According to a study that compared the effects of antacids (in particular, Rennies) versus h2 blockers:
- Antacids were shown to have a faster-relieving effect than h2 blockers.
- However, h2 blockers were found to have longer-lasting effects compared with antacids.
When self-medicating, you may find yourself trialling different over-the-counter products and seeing which works best for you. While this method works for some, a consultation with a doctor is the best way of finding the right treatment.
When it comes to prescription treatments for acid reflux, proton pump inhibitors (or PPIs) are some of the most effective. Due to this, they are commonly prescribed by doctors.
PPIs reduce the amount of stomach acid you produce. They do this by targeting enzymes in the stomach lining responsible for stomach acid production.
There are 5 different kinds of proton pump inhibitors which all work similarly. Their chemical makeup is the only thing that makes them different from each other.
Omeprazole is sometimes sold under the brand name Prilosec. It comes in two different forms:
Omeprazole is available in 10 mg, 20 mg, and 40 mg doses. Excluding 20 mg tablets (which can be bought over the counter), all dosages require a prescription from a doctor.
Lansoprazole is sometimes sold under the brand name Prevacid. It commonly comes in the form of capsules but is also available as dispersible tablets which dissolve in your mouth.
For acid reflux, you’ll probably take one tablet every day. For best results, take your dose every morning. One tablet is 15 mg.
Lansoprazole is only available on prescription. You’ll need to consult with a doctor or online healthcare provider before you can purchase it.
Rabeprazole is sometimes sold under the brand name Aciphex. Just like Lansoprazole, all available forms are prescription-only. It can’t be purchased over the counter, even in lower doses.
Rabeprazole comes in both 10 mg and 20 mg dosages. For acid reflux, it’s recommended that you take one 10 mg tablet every day for 4 weeks.
Pantoprazole is sometimes sold under the brand name Protonix. It comes in the form of tablets which should be swallowed whole with water.
You can buy Pantoprazole in 20mg or 40 mg doses. For the treatment of acid reflux, you’ll likely take one 20 mg tablet every day, preferably in the morning.
You can buy 20 mg tablets over the counter at a pharmacy or supermarket. Higher doses (40 mg), however, require a doctor’s prescription.
Esomeprazole is sometimes sold under the brand name Nexium. It’s available in 20mg or 40 mg tablets, capsules, or granules that you dissolve in liquid.
For acid reflux, the recommended dosage is 1 x 20 mg dose every day for 4-8 weeks, depending on your doctor’s advice.
All available doses of Esomeprazole can be bought with a prescription. However, you can buy 20 mg tablets over the counter at a pharmacy.
The following table summarises the main differences between the five proton pump inhibitors that are available for treating acid reflux:
|Can lower doses be bought OTC*?
|10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg
|Capsule/ dispersible tablet
|10 mg, 20 mg
|20 mg, 40 mg
|20 mg, 40 mg
*OTC stands for over-the-counter.
Important note: PPIs should only be used short-term, for as long as 12 weeks. For long-term use, you must be monitored by a doctor.
Onecompared the efficacy of four different PPIs: Omeprazole, Lansoprazole, Pantoprazole and Rabeprazole.
The results found the following healing rates (percentage of people taking a particular PPI who were successfully treated):
This data suggests that Pantoprazole and Rabeprazole are more effective PPIs.
However, out of the 301 people who took part in the study, 271 had healed from their ailment. This, therefore, suggests that all types of PPIs have a high success rate in treating stomach acid-related conditions.
Please note: When taking any kind of acid reflux treatment, it’s important to consult the patient leaflet. That way, you can access instructions for taking PPIs safely and read about any potential side effects.
If you have acid reflux, start by making diet changes and trying home remedies. If you don’t notice any improvements, you can go to a pharmacy and ask for advice.
Alternatively, you can consult with your GP or an online doctor. With their advice, you are more likely to start taking a treatment that’s most suited to you.
For acid reflux that affects your day-to-day life, PPIs are one of the most effective available treatments.