What medications treat heartburn?

You have lots of medication options for treating your heartburn symptoms. They range from relatively mild over-the-counter (OTC) remedies to stronger prescription medicines.

In addition to antacids, here are some examples of OTC and prescription options that may be ideal for treating your heartburn symptoms:

Bismuth subsalicylate: This OTC medication for nausea and diarrhea also helps relieve heartburn by coating the esophagus and acting as a barrier to stomach acids. People who cannot take aspirin should avoid bismuth subsalicylate.

Common brands of this kind of medication include the following:
  • Bismatrol
  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Kaopectate
Acid blockers (H2 blockers): These medications relieve heartburn by reducing the amount of acid produced in the stomach. Acid blockers take longer to kick in than antacids, but they are also longer acting.

Common OTC brand names include the following:
  • Axid AR (nizatidine)
  • Pepcid AC (famotidine)
  • Tagamet HB (cimetidine)
  • Zantac 75 (ranitidine)
Pepcid Complete, which acts as an antacid as well as an acid reducer, is also available over the counter.

Common prescription brand names include the following:
  • Axid (nizatidine)
  • Pepcid (famotidine)
  • Tagamet (cimetidine)
  • Zantac (ranitidine)
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): These medications significantly reduce the production of stomach acid. They also help heal damage to the esophagus. Typically, only people with severe heartburn or GERD take PPIs. All but one PPI are available by prescription only.

Currently, the only OTC PPI available is:
  • Prilosec OTC (omeprazole)
Common prescription PPIs include the following:
  • Aciphex (rabeprazole)
  • Nexium (esomeprazole)
  • Prevacid (lansoprazole)
  • Prilosec (omeprazole)
  • Protonix (pantoprazole)
  • Zegerid (omeprazole/sodium bicarbonate)
Promotility medications: These prescription medications improve the function of the digestive system, making heartburn symptoms less likely. Promotility medications are usually prescribed for a short time and are associated with side effects. Here are two options currently available:
  • Reglan (metoclopramide)
  • Urecholine (bethanechol)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.