Lots of people experience occasional heartburn and many of us simply dismiss it. It’s the price you pay for eating a big meal or spicy food, isn’t it, right? But what if your heartburn keeps coming back? Hi, I’m Dr. Frank McGeorge for Prilosec OTC and today we’re going to talk about heartburn treatments—the third video topic in this series. First, here’s what’s going on. Heartburn involves a ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES; it acts like a valve, allowing food into the stomach, but not out. When the LES relaxes or stops functioning properly, harsh stomach acid refluxes or backs up into the esophagus, irritating its sensitive lining; that’s why it hurts. Treatments for heartburn vary depending on the severity and frequency of symptoms, so it’s important to determine what category best describes you. Now, episodic or occasional heartburn refers to infrequent flare-ups that are fairly predictable (for example, after that all-you-can-eat buffet). This kind of heartburn is usually treated with antacids. Treatment with antacids alone is purely symptomatic, though, and only justified for minor symptoms. By neutralizing the acid in your stomach, antacids can provide fast, short-term relief. Now, at the other end of the spectrum is severe or persistent heartburn; this describes painful, long-lasting episodes of heartburn that may occur most days, if not all the time. Persistent heartburn should be assessed and treated by a medical doctor. Now, for many of us, it’s frequent heartburn that’s the problem. This means that you’re experiencing heartburn symptoms at least two or more days a week. If you’re having symptoms that often, you should consider preventing the problem rather than treating heartburn symptoms every time they occur. Now, there are a number of heartburn medications available to treat frequent heartburn: H2 blockers reduce the volume of acid produced by the millions of tiny pumps in your stomach. They take an hour or so to begin working and they can be temporarily effective for up to 12 hours. Now, this used to be the best treatment for frequent heartburn until proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, were discovered. Proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, like Prilosec OTC, work differently. They actually shut down some of the pumps, preventing the stomach from producing excess acid in the first place. PPIs like Prilosec OTC are the most commonly recommended product for frequent heartburn. They may take one to four days to reach full effect, but one pill a day will prevent the acid that causes frequent heartburn for a full 24 hours. Now, medication is just one of the important parts of heartburn treatment; you could also help yourself by reducing stress, not smoking, exercising regularly, eating smaller portions earlier rather than later in the evening, and avoiding certain foods that you know will bring on the burn. Now, if you’re interested in learning more about how heartburn medications work and whether they treat or prevent heartburn, Prilosec OTC has a printable chart that allows you to compare characteristics of the most commonly available types of medications. Use the chart to help decipher which medication best fits your individual needs. I’m Dr. Frank McGeorge for Prilosec OTC.