Acid reflux occurs when acid from the stomach rises into the esophagus and causes heartburn symptoms. Some lifestyle changes may help relieve symptoms of acid reflux, but some people need medications.
Over the counter (OTC) and prescription medications play an important role in helping people with acid reflux. Although studies are limited, some people use ginger and other herbal remedies.
In this article, we discuss how to stop acid reflux.
According to the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), people with acid reflux describe a feeling of burning discomfort in the chest, behind the breastbone.
The discomfort may move up into the neck and throat. Some people may also experience a bitter or sour taste in their mouths.
Symptoms of acid reflux can last for several hours. For some people, symptoms worsen after eating food, whereas others may experience symptoms before eating.
Occasional acid reflux is normal, but frequent symptoms that occur more than two times per week may be due to a more severe condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
A person can try the following home remedies to help ease the symptoms of acid reflux.
Doctors recommend several lifestyle changes that people can adopt to prevent acid reflux and avoid complications.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK), these may include:
- reducing fatty foods and other irritating foods
- stopping smoking
- maintaining a moderate weight
- wearing loose clothing around the abdomen
- avoiding eating 2–3 hours before bed
Baking soda diluted in water
According to a 2013 article, baking soda solution may help relieve symptoms of acid reflux. However, it may be harmful to heart health.
Drinking too much baking soda solution for acid reflux may alter the acid-base balance in the blood.
According to an article in Gastroenterology Research and Practice, some people report using ginger to relieve various digestive conditions, such as nausea, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. A systematic review in the Nutrition Journal indicates that ginger may help alleviate nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy.
Researchers need to conduct further investigations to determine the benefits of ginger, what type of ginger is most beneficial, and what dose is best for relieving acid reflux.
Rikkunshito is a Japanese herbal remedy that some people use for relieving symptoms of acid reflux.
Some evidence suggests that rikkunshito may help treat acid reflux in some children and young people.
However, researchers need to carry out more studies to confirm the safety and efficacy of this remedy.
There are a variety of medications that a person can use to treat acid reflux.
Antacids neutralize the acid in the stomach, thereby relieving acid reflux.
These OTC medications contain salts of calcium, magnesium, or aluminum.
People usually take antacids after meals.
The following table lists the doses in milligrams (mg) of antacids for treating acid reflux.
|Aluminum hydroxide||640 mg up to 5–6 times per day|
|Magnesium hydroxide||1,200 mg once a day or 30 milliliters (ml)|
|Calcium carbonate||Maximum dose: 8,000 mg per day for 2 weeks|
Histamine-2 receptor antagonists
According to a 2020 article, histamine-2 receptor antagonists bind histamine-2 receptors in the stomach, blocking the release of stomach acids.
The following table lists the typical doses of the four different histamine-2 receptor antagonists.
Typically, people can take histamine-2 receptor antagonists immediately to relieve symptoms or 30–60 minutes before eating or drinking beverages that cause acid reflux.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved four histamine-2 receptor antagonists.
|Histamine-2 receptor antagonist||Daily dose (mg)|
|nizatidine||150 twice daily|
Some histamine-2 receptor antagonists are available without a prescription. However, always talk to a doctor before taking any medications, as they may have side effects and interfere with any other medications a person is taking.
Proton pump inhibitors
According to a 2020 article, proton pump inhibitors decrease acid secretion in the stomach.
The medication affects the parietal cells in the stomach, which contain the proton pumps.
Inhibiting the action of the proton pumps blocks the final step of acid secretion in the stomach.
The FDA have approved six proton pump inhibitors.
The following table lists the doses of each proton pump inhibitor:
|Proton pump inhibitor||Dose (mg per day)|
Although proton pump inhibitors require a doctor’s prescription, some low dose proton pump inhibitors are available OTC.
To determine the most appropriate dose, people should speak with a doctor or pharmacist.
A 2015 articleestimates that 17–45% of people are at risk of developing acid reflux during pregnancy.
This is due to increased progesterone levels, displacement of the lower esophageal sphincter, and the pressure created from the growing fetus.
Doctors may recommend dietary changes with or without medication.
Eating smaller, more frequent meals, avoiding late-night meals or snacks, and avoiding acid reflux triggers may be beneficial.
Treatment options for acid reflux during pregnancy are the same as for those who are not pregnant.
According to a 2017 study, antacids with or without alginate and acid-suppressing medications, including histamine-2 receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors, apart from omeprazole, are safe and effective for pregnant women.
An article published in the British Medical Journal investigated published studies of effective treatments for acid reflux in pregnancy.
People with acid reflux can use antacids as a first-choice treatment during pregnancy because they provide quick symptom relief.
According to the NIDDK, acid reflux occurs when the lining of the esophagus encounters stomach acid.
The esophagus can become injured, which leads to heartburn symptoms.
The lower esophageal sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus prevents the stomach acids from rising into the esophagus.
If the sphincter relaxes too often, the stomach acids may rise into the esophagus leading to acid reflux.
People at risk of experiencing acid reflux should adopt specific lifestyle changes to avoid symptoms.
The ACG provide some tips for preventing acid reflux, including:
- raising the head of the bed
- avoiding lying down 2 two hours after eating
- avoiding eating for at least 2 hours before sleeping
- wearing loose-fitting clothing
- maintaining or achieving a moderate weight
- avoiding foods and medications that cause acid reflux
- stopping smoking
- limiting alcohol intake
Occasional acid reflux does not typically require medical attention.
If a person is experiencing symptoms two or more times per week, they may require further investigations.
According to the ACG, other alarming symptoms include:
- a feeling of food sticking in the throat
- blood loss
- weight loss
These symptoms may indicate GERD and require medical attention.
Some OTC or prescription medications to treat acid reflux may interact with other medications. People should check with their doctors or pharmacist before combining medications.
Sometimes the burning sensation in the chest may indicate a heart problem.
If sweating or shortness of breath accompanies the heartburn symptoms, call 911.
Acid reflux is a common digestive disorder.
People can choose from several different classes of medications to relieve acid reflux. Doctors may prescribe the same acid reflux medications for pregnant and non-pregnant people.
Some home remedies may help relieve symptoms, but scientists are not sure about their effectiveness and safety.
Occasional heartburn is relatively common, but when symptoms persist, they may indicate a digestion condition that requires medical attention.