Antacids and Alignates
Antacids are generally available without a doctor's prescription and relieve the symptoms of acid indigestion and heartburn (dyspepsia).
The usual ingredients of antacids are magnesium or aluminium and they work by neutralising the acid produced in the stomach which is the cause of indigestion and acid reflux. This group often contain sodium alginate which forms a protective coating over the lining of the gullet and the stomach.
Proton Pump Inhibitors
Proton pump Inhibitors are drugs which shut down the system in the stomach called the proton pump. It is this system which produces acid in the stomach, the leaking of which into the oesophagus causes acid reflux.
These drugs are taken in the form of tablets or capsules, as a powder to be diluted in water or as injections and are used to treat stomach ulcers and a rather rare condition called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome as well as acid reflux.
Omeprazole and Lansoprazole are well known varieties of this particular type of drug although there are several others.
Side effects are rare although they can include diarrhoea or constipation, stomach pains, wind, drowsiness, dizziness and headaches. In unusual cases, a severe allergic reaction can result. My personal experience with Omeprazole was seriously raised blood pressure and severe head pain. However, replacing Omeprazole with Ranitidine and taking blood pressure reduction medication for a couple of weeks sorted out that problem.
This group of drugs works by attaching to and blocking the H2 receptor area on stomach cells which, when stimulated by the naturally produced chemical, histamine, generates acid.
Ranitidine is the best known of this drug group, others being Nizatidine, Famotidine and Cimetidine.
Side effects are few but can display as diarrhoea, headaches, dizziness and tiredness. Loss of hair has been reported by takers of Cimetidine and with nizatidine, sweating.
Both proton pump inhibitors and H2 receptor antagonists are used together with antibiotics to get rid of Helicobacter pylori infection which can cause stomach ulcers and duodenitis.
Warning: If symptoms of heartburn persist, consult your doctor. They could be indicative of something much more serious than indigestion. Never embark on a course of medication without consulting a doctor. Never take medicines prescribed for somebody else.
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