Guide To The Best Heartburn Medications

June 10, 2023

Heartburn, a type of indigestion, produces a burning sensation in the chest. Typically, it appears behind an individual's breastbone. It is caused by acid regurgitation that goes into the esophagus. Certain foods and drinks can trigger heartburn. Patients have often noted that heartburn worsens after they have eaten. It can also worsen when they are bending over, lying down, or during the evening hours.

Heartburn, even occasional heartburn, is quite uncomfortable. Thus, many patients want to try heartburn treatment. Many patients try natural remedies for heartburn, including a weight loss regimen and following a diet for heartburn. Of course, many individuals will need to take heartburn medications. This includes over-the-counter medicines for heartburn, as well as prescription medication for acid reflux and heartburn. Patients must understand their various options first so that they can choose the best heartburn medication for their needs.

Calcium Carbonate

Calcium carbonate is a popular antacid that is often available as an over-the-counter medication. It is available as a liquid, capsule, or chewable tablet. Most individuals take it three or four times per day. Patients should ask a doctor or pharmacist before taking calcium carbonate if they have ever had certain health issues. Examples include stomach problems, cancer, kidney disease, kidney stones, parathyroid gland disorders, or high calcium in their blood.

Individuals also need to check with their pharmacist before using this antacid if they are taking certain medications. Specific medications to watch for include digoxin, tetracycline, and phenytoin. After taking any other medicine, the patient should wait for at least one to two hours before taking a dose of this antacid. Of course, this antacid has a few potential side effects. Examples include upset stomach, constipation, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Patients should tell their doctor if they experience any of these symptoms.

Bismuth Subsalicylate

Bismuth subsalicylate is an antidiarrheal agent, though it also has antacid effects. It works by altering how fluids and electrolytes flow into the bowel. People with ulcers, kidney disease, or bleeding disorders should check with their medical team before taking this drug. Individuals who use medicines to treat diabetes, gout, or arthritis should ask their doctor before using this drug. This medication can interact with anticoagulants, including warfarin, as well.

Patients should not take more than eight doses of this medicine in twenty-four hours. If heartburn persists after two days of taking bismuth subsalicylate, patients should make an appointment to see their doctor. Occasionally, this medication can cause ringing in the ears. It may also impact the results of some medical tests. Patients should tell their doctor that they are using this medication.


Famotidine is a histamine H2-receptor antagonist. It reduces the amount of stomach acid that the body makes. Individuals often need a prescription for this medication. However, it is also available as an over-the-counter medicine. Certain individuals are unable to take this medication. This includes individuals who are allergic to similar medications, such as cimetidine and ranitidine. Individuals with stomach cancer, long QT syndrome, liver disease, or kidney disease should ask their doctor before taking this medication. In addition, patients are encouraged to avoid alcohol consumption while taking this medicine. The reason is that alcohol increases the risk of stomach damage during treatment with famotidine.

Unless directed by a doctor, individuals should not take other medicines that reduce stomach acid while they are using this one. Side effects of this medication include dizziness, diarrhea, headaches, and constipation. Older adults and individuals with kidney disease are at an increased risk of experiencing side effects from this medicine. Patients should stop taking this drug if they have a fast heart rate, seizures, confusion, dark urine, or unexplained muscle soreness during treatment. If these symptoms occur, patients should call their doctor right away.


As a proton pump inhibitor, omeprazole works by decreasing the body's production of stomach acid. However, individuals with liver disease, nausea, vomiting, osteoporosis, low magnesium, or unexplained weight loss should check with their doctor before taking this medication. When omeprazole is used on a long-term basis, it can increase the likelihood of hip, wrist, and spinal fractures. This medicine may also cause kidney issues. Thus, patients should inform their doctor if they have blood in their urine or urinate less frequently than usual.

Occasionally, this medicine may cause new or worsening symptoms associated with lupus. Patients should check with their doctor if they notice joint pain or a rash on their arms or cheeks that worsens in the sun. Some individuals may develop cold symptoms, stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting while taking this medication. It is also vital for patients to review their current medications with a doctor before adding this one. The reason is that this medicine interacts with several others. Examples include digoxin, St. John's wort, diuretics, clopidogrel, and certain antibiotics.


Cimetidine is a histamine H2-receptor antagonist. The over-the-counter version of this medicine is intended to treat heartburn that occurs with sour stomach or acid indigestion. In addition, patients can take this medication to prevent heartburn caused by particular foods or drinks. However, patients who are allergic to other histamine H2-receptor antagonists should not take this one. It is not safe to breastfeed during treatment with this medicine either. Individuals with swallowing difficulties, stomach pain, or frequent chest pain should ask their doctor if it is safe for them to take this medication. Patients who have had heartburn for more than three months and individuals who experience heartburn with wheezing should also ask their doctor before taking it.

Diarrhea and headaches are the most frequently reported side effects of cimetidine. Patients should let their doctor know immediately if they develop anxiety, hallucinations, bloody stools, or breast swelling during treatment. There are also potential medication interactions linked to cimetidine. Specifically, this medication can interact with blood thinners, antidepressants, and sedatives. It may also interact with ketoconazole, phenytoin, and some heart and blood pressure medicines.

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