You may be asking yourself if medicaments for heartburn really work, when the priority is on eliminating the real cause of your acid reflux condition and if the relief that is temporary compensates for the side effects. After all, drugs and medicaments for heartburn are readily available. Adverts show them, medicaments for heartburn are sold over the counter, and the majority of doctors happily prescribe them with the notion of instantly terminating the crippling pain of heartburn.
Usually, after swallowing, the LES or lower esophageal sphincter opens to let food pass to the stomach and then shuts to stop acid from returning into the esophagus. Heartburn, also known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), comes about when the valve in the esophagus (the LES) loses its strength and instead of blocking in the other direction, lets stomach content go back into the esophagus. Acid reflux patients experience a particular burning feeling under the breastbone, often coming at night. It is this backward flow of acid coming from this acid reflux and resulting in a burning sensation that is called heartburn.
Acid reflux is a dangerous condition requiring immediate diagnosis and treatment. If neglected, acid reflux can badly damage the lining of the esophagus causing chronic inflammation and possibly even cancer of the esophagus. Persistent acid reflux with its common symptoms of heartburn can be distressing and painful enough to handicap your daily activities and significantly impact the esophagus.
Acid reflux medicaments are not imperatively the remedy of choice, even if they appear to be the most readily accessible treatment for heartburn. There are four principal classes of medicaments for use with GERD:
1. Antacids take effect by neutralizing acid in the esophagus and do this for up to a few hours. They can be bought in different formats such as liquid, chewing gum or tablets and so on.
2. Alginates encapsulate stomach contents and reduce reflux.
3. H2-receptor antagonists imitate the production of stomach acid in order to put a block on your gastric system. They take 30 to 60 minutes to start working and can then produce this effect for up to 12 hours.
4. PPI (Proton pump inhibitors) inhibit the release of acid in the stomach by acting on the stomach cells.
These medicaments all have a common element, even if they vary in the way in which they work, as well as for their duration and effect:
1. Their effect is not permanent. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a complex phenomenon, being created by a combination of factors of the environment, lifestyle and diet. However, most medicaments for acid reflux focus on treating the immediate short-term causes, so they do not bring permanent relief and skirt around the real causes of GERD.
2. Using these drugs for a long duration can produce multiple side effects. Prolonged usage of antacids can worsen the damage from long duration acid reflux: gastric acid is necessary for good digestion and immunity and continually ingesting antacid interferes with these processes. PPI therapy usually does more good than harm for side effects. Its most frequent side effects including serious headaches and diarrhea, PPI have also been associated with osteoporosis.
Medication therapy for acid reflux is based on the classical approach that compared to the holistic approach does not look after the body while eradicating the symptoms of the disease. For this reason, most medications for acid reflux will not do more than give temporary relief amidst a host of side effects. On the other hand, alternative treatments for acid reflux such as homeopathic solutions, herbal remedies, changes in lifestyle and diet, and detoxification, will solve the internal cause of acid reflux to safely and effectively stop it from happening again.