What helps against heartburn, when home remedies fail, or the complaints occur frequently? The answer: medicines from the pharmacy. They are partly over-the-counter, sometimes prescription-only. Essentially, the following groups of active ingredients are used for the treatment of heartburn or reflux disease.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are the main remedies for heartburn and reflux disease. They prevent the formation of an enzyme that opens channels for the outflow of gastric acid on the acid-forming cells in the gastric mucosa. So that means: The secretion of gastric acid is inhibited. In small doses and limited numbers, the gastric protective agents are freely available. Higher dose proton pump inhibitors, however, are prescription. Representatives of this group of drugs are, for example, omeprazole and pantoprazole.
H2-antihistamines (H2 blockers) inhibit the action of the messenger histamine by occupying its binding sites (receptors) in the stomach. Actually, histamine stimulates the release of gastric acid by docking to its receptors. However, if H2-blockers already sit at the histamine receptors, the messenger substance cannot develop its effect – the amount of acid in the stomach sinks. This can relieve heartburn and acid-related stomach discomfort. Some H2-antihistamines are available without prescription in the pharmacy, for example, ranitidine. Other representatives of this drug group such as cimetidine you get, however, only on prescription.
Note: How and in what dosage the individual remedies for heartburn should be taken, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Follow these recommendations to avoid side effects as much as possible!
In certain cases, surgical treatment may be considered for the treatment of heartburn or reflux disease. This may be the case, for example, if the anti-heartburn medications do not work or are not tolerated or the symptoms are very severe.
In the anti-reflux operation (fundoplication), the surgeon places the upper part of the stomach around the lower end of the esophagus and fixes it with a suture. This strengthens the sphincter muscle at the stomach entrance, thus preventing reflux and heartburn. Although most patients can not completely dispense with remedies for heartburn after the procedure. But you generally need significantly less medication.