Heartburn is a painful burning sensation in your chest or throat that usually happens after eating. The good news about heartburn is that it’s treatable.
Heartburn is caused when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. Heartburn not only causes pain and discomfort … it can also damage the lining of your esophagus over the long-term if it is not treated.
Luckily, there are various methods you can try, as well as using heartburn relief medication.
There are changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle that can help overcome its painful, irritating symptoms. Some tips you might try include:
- If you smoke, consider smoking cessation. Smoking can make your heartburn worse.
- If you’re overweight, try to lose some weight. Avoid fried, fatty foods (especially within a couple of hours before going to bed), and eat a balanced diet as suggested in Canada’s Food Guide.
- Keep a food diary and avoid the foods that give you heartburn.
- Don’t nap after eating. Lying down can make your heartburn worse.
- Raise the head of your bed a few inches, or use a wedge pillow.
If these changes don’t fully relieve your heartburn or if you are having symptoms more than once per week, there are many heartburn medications available in Canada. Some are over-the-counter (OTC – purchased without a prescription) medicines and others require a prescription from your doctor.
In terms of how they help, heartburn relievers fall into two categories: antacids and acid reducers.
Antacids are products that neutralize stomach acid. Our stomachs produce acid that helps break down the food we eat as well as kill unwanted bacteria. The stomach itself is protected from this acid by a special lining that keeps the acid from damaging the stomach`s walls.
Antacids are made from chemical bases (alkalis) which are the opposite of acids. When added together, bases and acids start to cancel each other out, which is called neutralization. Neutralizing the stomach acid with an antacid helps to soothe the burning feeling and other symptoms caused by your heartburn.
Antacids tend to work quickly to ease heartburn, but if there is an underlying problem, another medication may be needed. Antacids are best used for temporary relief and according the instructions of your doctor or pharmacist.
Remember, just because antacids don’t require a prescription, they can still have side effects just like any other medication.
Acid reducers are medications that lower the amount of acid that the stomach makes.
They make the stomach juices less acidic, so when stomach juice flows back into the esophagus, it is less irritating and harmful. This not only helps with heartburn but also allows the esophagus to heal.
There are two main types of acid reducers: H2 blockers and PPIs.
H2 blockers (also called histamine receptor antagonists, or H2RAs) reduce the amount of acid produced in the stomach by blocking the acid-producing action of histamine.
Histamine is a chemical made by certain cells in the body, including cells in the lining of the stomach. Histamine causes other stomach cells to release acid. By blocking histamine, H2 blockers reduce the amount of stomach acid produced.
Some H2 blockers are available over-the-counter, and others are only available with a prescription from your doctor. Those available in Canada include:
- Axid® (nizatidine)
- Pepcid® (famotidine)
- Tagamet® (cimetidine)
- Zantac® (ranitidine)
These medications are usually well tolerated but can cause side effects such as diarrhea, constipation, headache, fatigue, rash, and slow heartbeat or heart rhythm changes.
H2 blockers may interact with other medications you are taking… ask your doctor or the Pharmacist at Walmart to be sure they are safe for you to take.
Axid is a registered trademark of Pharmascience Inc. Pendopharm, Division of Pharmascience Inc.
Pepcid and Zantac are registered trademarks of Johnson & Johnson Inc.
Tagamet is a registered trade mark of the GlaxoSmithKline group of companies.
PPIs (also called proton pump inhibitors) reduce production of stomach acid by blocking the acid-producing action of an enzyme called the proton pump.
The proton pump is a chemical system found in certain cells in the lining of your stomach, and helps them produce acid. When the proton pump’s action is blocked by a PPI, less stomach acid is produced.
Most PPIs are available with a prescription from your doctor, but at least one is now available as a non-prescription medicine. PPIs available in Canada include:
- Dexilant® (dexlansoprazole)
- Losec® (omeprazole)
- Nexium® (esomeprazole)
- Olex™ (omeprazole)
- Pantoloc® (pantoprazole)
- Pariet® (rabeprazole)
- Prevacid® (lansoprazole)
- Tecta® (pantoprazole)
These medications are very well tolerated but can cause side effects such as abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, and itching. PPIs may interact with other medications you are taking… ask your doctor or the Pharmacist at Walmart to be sure they are safe for you to take.
Dexilant is a registered trademark of Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc and used under licence by Takeda Canada Inc.
Losec and Nexium are registered trademarks of the AstraZeneca group of companies.
Olex is a trademark of Pharmascience Inc. Pendopharm, Division of Pharmascience Inc.
Pantoloc and Tecta are registered trademarks of Takeda GmbH. Used under licence.
Pariet is a registered trademark of EISAI Co. Limited.
Prevacid is a registered trademark of Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc. and is used under license.
Olex™ Omeprazole 20 mg
equatetm/mc Nicotine Gum
Polysporin® ECZEMA ESSENTIALS™
Rhinaris® NASAL MIST
This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.
†The pharmacist at Walmart does not endorse or recommend any sponsor or their products or services.
Any representation, performance claim, warranty or guarantee in any materials herein is the sole responsibility of the sponsor that has prepared such materials and is not independently verified by Walmart.
Olex is a trademark of Pharmascience Inc.
Pendopharm, Division of Pharmascience Inc.
Rhinaris is a registered trademark of Pharmascience Inc.
Pendopharm, Division of Pharmascience Inc.