If you have ever been to a medical doctor to have them treat indigestion, acid reflux or GERD you may know that there are many medicines that can be prescribed to take
care of your symptoms. The biggest problem with these medicines is the fact that there are many possible side effects. Some of the side effects can last longer or be far worse than the symptoms of indigestion, acid reflux or GERD that you are working to get rid of. It is because of these side effects that we should always seek an alternative herbal remedy to mainstream medicine first.
First, most people try over-the-counter antacids, such as Maalox, Mylanta, Gelusil, Rolaids and Tums. They neutralize stomach acid and can provide quick relief. But antacids alone won't heal an inflamed esophagus damaged by stomach acid. And overuse of some antacids can cause side effects such as diarrhea or constipation.
Other popular over-the-counter medicines are cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine Axid AR and ranitidine (Zantac 75). These are available at half the strength of their prescription versions. Instead of neutralizing the acid, these medications reduce the production of acid. They do not act as quickly as antacids, but they provide longer relief. They're also effective in reducing reflux at night if taken at bedtime. These drugs can cause infrequent side effects, including bowel changes, dry mouth, dizziness or drowsiness. In rare instances they can also react dangerously with other medications.
There is also Omeprazole (Prilosec); this medication blocks acid production and allows time for damaged esophageal tissue to heal. Omeprazole (Prilosec) was previously available only by prescription, but now is available in an over-the-counter form for treatment of heartburn. Side effects include difficulty breathing, closing of the throat, swelling of the lips, tongue, or face, and hives.
Many of the over-the-counter medicines are available in prescription strength. For example, Prilosec have prescription-strength forms called Axid, Pepcid, Tagamet and Zantac. The side effects associated with these include headache, abdominal pain, asthenia, back pain, chest pain, infection, fever, diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, dyspepsia, constipation, dry mouth, anorexia and many, many more.
Prescription strength proton pump inhibitors are long-acting and said to be the most effective medication for suppressing acid production. They are used in long term treatment (at least 10 years). Side effects, such as stomach or abdominal pain, diarrhea or headaches are associated with this medicine. Prescription strength proton pump inhibitors include esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix) and rabeprazole (Aciphex).
Lastly, there are prokinetic agents like Metoclopramide that do not reduce acid production. Instead, they help your stomach to empty more rapidly and may help tighten the valve between the stomach and the esophagus. Side effects are nausea, diarrhea, and nervous system side effects, such as jumpiness, confusion, or sleeplessness. They are also known to cause some depression.
Note: Some statements in this article may not be
approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and
should not be taken as professional medical advice.