Frequent Heartburn Treatment 

Prilosec OTC

Choices in Treating Your Frequent Heartburn

Because heartburn can vary among individuals, the appropriate treatment for one person may not be right for another. Some people may even benefit from basic lifestyle changes. Your doctor or pharmacist can help you make the right decisions.The three main heartburn remedies are antacids, H2 blockers, and PPIs. PPIs, such as Prilosec OTC®, are specifically designed to treat frequent heartburn.


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.


Why Prilosec OTC® Is Different

Prilosec OTC is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). As the first over-the-counter proton pump inhibitor, Prilosec OTC is different from many other heartburn treatments and medications. Here’s how PPIs compare to antacids and H2 blockers:

PPI (proton pump inhibitor)

When you eat, millions of tiny pumps in your stomach produce acid to break down food—and heartburn can occur when excess acid refluxes into your esophagusHEARTBURN GLOSSARY Esophagus: Tube connecting the mouth to the stomach; a passageway for food; part of the digestive system.. A PPI treatment, such as Prilosec OTC, works by turning off many of these pumps to reduce the amount of acid produced, but leaving enough acid for digestion. Prilosec OTC effectively treats frequent heartburn for 24 hours with one pill a day for 14 days.* Prilosec OTC starts working on day one, and some people get complete relief of symptoms within 24 hours. It may take one to four days for full effect.


AntacidsHEARTBURN GLOSSARY Antacids: Common treatment for heartburn symptoms, neutralizing acid in the stomach for a short period of time. neutralize the acid in your stomach. Antacids go to work on your heartburn immediately. Unlike the proactive PPI, antacids are commonly taken after you eat or when discomfort begins. While no heartburn treatments cure the condition, antacids provide only temporary relief.

H2 Blockers

H2 blockers relieve heartburn symptoms by blocking histamine type 2 receptors, one of the three triggers of acid production. H2 blockers can begin working within an hour, so they act faster than a PPI, but they do not provide the immediate relief of an antacid. H2 blockers then continue to work in the body for up to 12 hours. H2 blockers can work preventatively against heartburn, but they do not last a full 24 hours from just one pill.


If you've experienced the frequent heartburn-stopping power of Prilosec OTC—or you're curious to know how it can work for you—watch this video for an in-depth look at how one pill a day can mean zero heartburn for 24 hours.*

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