What can I take when I have GERD?

If you have Gastroesophageal Reflux Diseases, you know that at best it is an extremely uncomfortable condition. At worst, it is downright painful.

If you're not sure, that is, if you have some intestinal condition that has not yet been diagnosed, here is a brief description: GERD is a digestive disorder affecting the muscle between the esophagus and stomach which causes the stomach's contents to flow back up into the esophagus.

GERD can usually be relieved through changes in the diet or lifestyle, or with medication. Severe cases may require surgery.

There are a few key methods of diagnosing GERD, including:

  • X-ray of your upper digestive region- After you drink a liquid to coat your digestive tract, your doctor can see a silhouette of your system to determine any irregularities
  • Ambulatory acid test- Monitors your stomach acid regurgitation
  • Esophageal manometry- Measures your muscle contractions in your esophagus when you swallow
  • Upper endoscopy- Examines your esophagus and stomach through the use of a thin, flexible camera and light

Unless your GERD is particularly painful or serious in any way, your doctor is most likely to recommend medications to try to control the reflux. Over-The-Counter medications include:

  • Antacids- To help neutralize the stomach acid
  • H-2 receptor blockers- Provide longer relief than antacids and can decrease acid production
  • Proton pump inhibitors- Stronger versions of the H-2 receptor blockers

Prescription medications include:

  • Prescription-strength H-2 receptor blockers- Includes famotidine, nizatidine, and ranitidine. May cause an increase in B-12 deficiency and increased risk of bone fractures
  • Prescription-strength proton pump inhibitors- Includes esomeprazole, lansoprazole omeprazole pantoprazole rabeprazole, and dexlansoprazole. May cause diarrhea, nausea, and headaches
  • Baclofen- Used to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter. Side effects include fatigue or nausea.

Other conditions may not require a prescription medication

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