The Lowdown on Acid Reflux Disease
Do you suffer from frequent bouts of heartburn - maybe two or three episodes every week? Do you often wake up at night to the all too familiar feeling of burning in your chest and an acidic taste in your mouth? Is your heartburn beginning to get in the way of your daily life? If you have answered yes to any or all of these questions, you may be suffering from acid reflux disease, which is also known as GERD.
Is Acid Reflux Disease Serious?
For most of us, the occasional bout of heartburn is nothing to worry about. We can simply take an antacid or two if the pain becomes particularly uncomfortable and go on our merry way. However, when heartburn evolves into acid reflux disease, and the episodes become more frequent, there is a possibility that the delicate lining of the esophagus can become damaged by the regular exposure to stomach acids.
Because of the potential for damage, it is a good idea to treat your acid reflux disease when it becomes a regular problem. There are many ways to keep these acids at bay, from changes to diet and lifestyle, to over the counter and prescription medications. For some, avoiding the triggers for the heartburn is sufficient for controlling acid reflux disease. This may include certain types of foods, smoking or overfilling your stomach with large meals.
Medical Options for Acid Reflux
If lifestyle and dietary changes are not sufficient for controlling your acid reflux disease, you can also try a medication. The most common over the counter medicine to treat heartburn is an antacid. These come under commercial names like Rolaids or Tums, and work by neutralizing the acid in the stomach. The best feature of antacids is that they go to work very quickly. However, they are not always the most efficient medication for acid reflux disease, since the benefits tend to be short-lived.
You can also choose an H-2-receptor blocker, like Tagamet, Pepcid or Zantac. The function of these medications is to reduce the amount of acid that is produced, to lessen the likelihood that acid reflux disease will flare up. These medicines take longer to begin working, but they will last longer. It is best to take an H-2-receptor blocker before eating a meal, since they will take about 30 minutes to begin working. Another good medication for acid reflux disease is a proton pump inhibitor like Prilosec. This medicine will block acid production so any damage to the esophageal lining has time to heal.
Acid reflux disease can be an uncomfortable and potentially damaging condition. The good news is that there are many choices in treatment for this condition that will lead to more symptom-free days and a healthier digestive system.