Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as antacids and H2 blockers, can help treat heartburn. People can also try home remedies, including ginger and apple cider vinegar. If symptoms persist, a person should speak with a doctor.

Heartburn is a common condition that affects millions of people globally. It causes a burning sensation in the chest or throat due to stomach acid flowing back into the esophagus.

While occasional heartburn is harmless, and a person can treat it with simple lifestyle changes and OTC medications, more severe or frequent cases may require prescription medication.

This article discusses the medications and home remedies available to people experiencing heartburn.

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Medications for heartburn are an important part of managing this common condition. Heartburn can cause discomfort and pain that can be difficult to manage without medication.

There are several types of OTC medications available to treat heartburn, including:

  • antacids
  • H2 blockers
  • proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)

Each of these medications works differently to either neutralize stomach acid or reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces.

Understanding the different types of medications available and how they work can help people find the right treatment to manage their heartburn symptoms.

The dose can depend on a person’s age and vary depending on the product and manufacturer. People should read and follow the instructions in the accompanying pamphlet.


Antacids are OTC medications that help neutralize stomach acid. They provide fast relief for mild heartburn but do not prevent acid production.

Antacids contain a combination of calcium, magnesium, and aluminum.

A 2023 article notes that antacids containing aluminum salts are safe during pregnancy. However, pregnant individuals should consult a healthcare professional before taking any medications.

Learn more about antacids.

H2 blockers

H2 blockers, also known as histamine-2 receptor antagonists, help reduce the production of stomach acid by blocking histamine, a chemical that stimulates acid production.

They typically begin to work within 1–3 hours. They provide longer-lasting relief than antacids and are available OTC and by prescription.

Examples of H2 blockers include:

  • famotidine (Pepcid)
  • ranitidine (Zantac)
  • cimetidine (Tagamet)

Learn more about H2 blockers.


PPIs help reduce the production of stomach acid by blocking an enzyme in the stomach that produces acid.

They are more effective than H2 blockers and often used for severe or persistent acid reflux. They begin to work within 1-4 hours but may only take full effect after several days.

Examples of PPIs include:

PPIs are available to purchase OTC or by prescription.

Learn more about PPIs.

Prescription medication

A doctor may prescribe stronger doses of antacids, H2 blockers, and PPIs.

They may also prescribe prokinetics. These help improve the motility of the stomach and intestines, which can help move food through the digestive system more quickly.

Examples of prokinetics include metoclopramide (Reglan) and domperidone.

Learn more

Find out more about medications for heartburn:

These may help alleviate heartburn, but it is important to note that supplements and herbal remedies do not undergo the same safety and efficacy testing as drugs:

  • Ginger: This spice has natural anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe the digestive system. People can eat ginger root, drink ginger tea, or take ginger supplements.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Although it may seem counterintuitive, some people believe drinking a small amount of apple cider vinegar mixed with water can help neutralize stomach acid and relieve heartburn.
  • Baking soda: Mixing a small amount of baking soda with water and drinking it can also help neutralize stomach acid. However, people should use this remedy with caution and consult a doctor — particularly if they have another health condition, such as heart disease or kidney disease. Learn more.
  • Chamomile tea: Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce the inflammation that acid reflux causes. Drinking chamomile tea can help soothe the digestive system.

It is important for people to remember to contact a doctor if heartburn is frequent or severe.

Long-term untreated acid reflux can lead to complications such as esophagitis, ulcers, and even cancer. However, most people with heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) will not develop cancer.

Learn more

Find out more about natural remedies for heartburn:

To help improve symptoms, people can eat smaller meals and wait at least 3 hours before lying down.

Those with heartburn should avoid:

  • acidic foods
  • chocolate
  • high fat foods
  • mint
  • spicy foods
  • alcohol
  • coffee

Various OTC medications and home remedies can help treat heartburn.

People should note that all medications have potential side effects, and it is important to speak with a doctor before taking any medication for acid reflux or heartburn.

A doctor can help determine the best course of treatment based on an individual’s specific symptoms and medical history.