Last updated: June 24. 2014 9:23AM - 234 Views
By Alyssa Davis PharmD

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All of us have had it one time or another: the painful, burning sensation coming from the stomach into the throat after eating a fatty or spicy meal. This burning pain can be easily managed, though, and you won’t have to suffer anymore.

There are several changes that you can make to your diet to avoid heart burn in the first place. Limiting spicy or fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, oranges, and tomatoes may help prevent heart burn. Also, eating smaller, more frequent meals may help with digestion. Lastly, avoiding food the few hours before bedtime will lower your risk of getting heart burn.

If these measures do not relieve heart burn, you may try over the counter medications. There are three categories of heart burn medications that are available over the counter. The first category neutralizes acid in the stomach and includes Tums, Maalox, and Mylanta. These medications work very quickly to relieve heart burn symptoms, but they only last for a short period of time and are used for quick relief. The second category reduces the amount stomach acid that your body makes and includes Pepcid and Zantac. These medications take longer to kick in but last longer and are taken every day to prevent or treat heart burn. The third category stops almost all stomach acid production and includes Prilosec OTC, Prevacid, and the newly approved Nexium 24hr. These medications take a day or two to work but last 24 hours. These medications are also taken every day to prevent heart burn.

If you use an over the counter medicine to treat heart burn for more than two weeks and the heart burn hasn’t gone away, it is important to call your doctor. Your doctor will monitor the heart burn more closely for improvement. If you have any questions about heart burn, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

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