When one experiences occasional indigestion, natural remedies will often clear up the symptoms if they do not clear up on their own.
However, some people experience indigestion frequently, most like due to either lifestyle factors or medical conditions.
In these cases, natural remedies may not provide enough relief and one’s doctor will recommend medication.
There are a number of different categories of medication that can provide relief, including antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and H2 receptor antagonists.
Depending on the cause of one’s indigestion, certain medications will be more effective than others.
Over the Counter Antacids
Antacids are the most common medication used for the treatment of indigestion as well as other digestive ailments. It works by neutralizing the acid in the stomach to reduce irritation that causes indigestion.
Taking antacids can provide one with immediate relief. The relief is short term though, lasting only a few hours. When the antacid is taken is an important factor in determining how long it will last for.
If taken during a meal or directly after a meal, it can last significantly longer than if taken on an empty stomach. The difference can be up to 3 hours versus only 20 – 60 minutes.
Antacids are available in table and liquid form and there are many over the counter options to choose from. The most common brands of this medication include Pepcid Complete, Alka-Seltzer, Maalox, Mylanta and Rolaids. When taking antacids, one must be careful not to overdo it.
Personally, I suffer from indigestion a lot and I have found that Pepcid Complete is the most effective over the counter medication for my symptoms.
These medications are not meant to be used long term and if they are they may cause negative side effects. That is why this medication is the best to treat occasional indigestion. It is not effective in treating recurring or persistent indigestion.
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)
Another category of medication that can be used to treat indigestion is proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs. These medications decrease the actual amount of stomach acid that is produced, therefore reducing the irritation the acid can cause in one’s body.
Proton Pump Inhibitors are typically available in tablet form. For patients over the age of 18, there are over the counter options such as Zantac and Prilosec OTC.
For patients experiencing severe indigestion, there are stronger, prescription only options such as Prilosec, Prevacid, Aciphex and Nexium.
There are a number of side effects that can occur when one takes proton pump inhibitors. While they do not occur often, the side effects include headache, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, skin rashes, dizziness, vomiting, flatulence and stomach pain.
H2 Receptor Antagonists
H2 Reception Antagonists are the third category of medication that is recommended for treating indigestion in patients. There are four types of H2 receptor antagonists: cimetidine, famotidine, nizatidine, ranitidine.
These medications work by reducing the acidity levels in one’s stomach, therefore reducing the irritation that occurs in the digestive track. This medication comes in liquid and tablet form and is usually by prescription only. However, there are some less potent options available over the counter.
Depending on the cause of one’s indigestion, a physician will recommend the best medication to take.
If the indigestion is due to an underlying medical condition, the treatment options will vary depending on what the best course of treatment for that underlying condition is. Most often, once the underlying condition is treated, the indigestion will subside.
Some examples of treatment options are:
- If another medication is causing indigestion as a side effect, a medical professional may recommend changing to a different medication or stopping its use entirely.
- If indigestion is caused by the bacteria pylori, typically one will be prescribed a combination of acid blocks and antacids. Treatment may take several months to be effective.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors are often recommended if indigestion is caused by GERD, excessive stomach acid, ulcers, esophagitis or gastritis.
- Antidepressants would most likely be recommended if indigestion is linked to stress and depression in a patient. Treating the underlying depression will be the most efficient way to reduce or prevent indigestion from occurring.
- If lifestyle factors are causing indigestion, some of the medications listed above will help to reduce the symptoms but they will not solve the problem entirely unless taken in combination with lifestyle changes.
Medications should be taken in conjunction with the following:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Minimize caffeine
- Avoid spicy or overly fatty foods
- Reduce stress and fatigue
- Prop one’s head up when going to bed
- Do not go to bed with a full stomach
It is important to remember that all information provided here is for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice. If one is experiencing symptoms of indigestion, they should always consult with a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment options. It is especially important not to start any medications without consulting a doctor if one is pregnant or breastfeeding.
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