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If you are one of the many people who have been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease, more commonly known as GERD, you may be considering whether or not you need acid reflux medication. If you are working with a doctor to control your illness, you may have found that doctors will take other courses of treatment before trying prescription medications, because often different types of treatment will be effective. However, if you are not getting relief from other remedies, or you have already suffered from damage as a result of ongoing symptoms, you may be at the point of looking into whether acid reflux medication is the right course for you.
What Comes Before Acid Reflux Medication?
Once you are diagnosed with GERD, your doctor will try many paths to get your symptoms under control. Since GERD is caused by a faulty sphincter in the esophagus that allows acid to come back from the stomach into the throat and mouth, controlling the acid is often first on the agenda. This can be attempted through lifestyle changes, such as avoiding foods that trigger symptoms, as well as cutting back on alcohol, coffee and smoking. Keeping weight in check and staying away from large meals can also help patients have fewer episodes of acid reflux.
When Acid Reflux Medication Becomes Necessary
When lifestyle modifications are not enough, your doctor may recommend over the counter acid reflux medications first, such as antacids. Many times antacids are suggested before running tests to determine if acid reflux disease is indeed present. The thought is that if these over the counter remedies work well, there is no need to probe further into the cause. If a patient continues to have problem with painful heartburn, there becomes a risk of damage to the esophagus and larynx as well as the constant discomfort that the symptoms bring.
At this point a doctor may prescribe acid reflux medication that will need to be taken regularly and indefinitely to keep the acid backup in check. These medications may include histamine-2 blockers such as Pepcid or Zantac, or proton-pump inhibitors like Prevacid or Prilosec. Often these medications will be prescribed before running tests since the tests to confirm a diagnosis of acid reflux can be invasive and costly.
The good news for GERD sufferers is that treatments are available and there are many options to try. If a doctor recommends an acid reflux medication, it is generally because lifestyle modifications were not enough to control symptoms. With proper medications, many patients can be free of the discomfort of persistent heartburn, and can prevent the damage that can possibly come with it.