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Over the Counter Options for Indigestion

Indigestion, acid reflux, and heartburn as with any medical condition have many treatment options for a person to choose from. However, unlike some medical conditions indigestion can be prevented and treated with the help of several over-the-counter medicines that do not require a prescription or a trip to the doctor.

Antacids and alginates are the typical form of over-the-counter medications that people think about and reach for when they suffer from indigestion, acid reflux or heartburn. These medicines do not require a doctor's prescription and they help quickly relive the symptoms of indigestion.

Most of the usual ingredients in antacids and alignates are magnesium or aluminum. They typically work by neutralizing the acid that the stomach produces which usually causes indigestion and acid reflux. Most of the medicines in this group contain sodium alginate, which helps form a protective coating over the lining of the stomach and the gullet.

Another form of over-the-counter medicines is proton pump inhibitors. There are drugs that shut down the system in the stomach that is called the proton pump. The proton pump is a system that produces the acid in the stomach. A leaking from this system into the esophagus will cause acid reflux.

Most of these medicines are found in tablets or capsules. However, some can be found as a powder that can be diluted in water and a few are made as injections to help treat stomach ulcers and a rare condition called Zollinger-Ellison, which is a syndrome. However, all forms of proton pump inhibitors can be used to treat acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion.

Some of the most popular forms of proton pump inhibitors include Omeprazole and Lansoprazole although there are several others to choose from. Side effects are rare with these drugs but they can include diarrhea or constipation, stomach pains, drowsiness, dizziness, headaches and difficulty breathing. There are a few unusual cases where severe allergic reactions have occurred.

Another option is H2 Receptor Antagonists. The drugs in this group work by attaching themselves to and blocking the H2 receptor area on the stomach cells that generate acid when they are naturally stimulated by the chemical histamine. The best-known drug in this group is Ranitidine.

However, there are others such as Nizatidine, Famotidine and Cimetidine. There are few side effects with these drugs but can include diarrhea, headaches, dizziness and tiredness. Some people have reported a loss of hair after taking Cimetidine and sweating with Nizatidine.

However, it is very important to consult your doctor immediately if your heartburn symptoms persist even when you take over-the-counter products. If these products are not working then your indigestion can be a sign of something more serious. In these cases, it is best to see your doctor so they can accurately determine what is wrong and prescribe the best treatment option for your condition.

Attempting to treat the worsening condition on your own without medical help can result in serious complications or problems from a damaged esophagus that cannot be reversed if medical attention is put off long enough.


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