Many of the questions submitted on this site are from readers asking about acid reflux medications. I understand why. Medications used to treat reflux are numerous and come in many different varieties, and which medicines to take can be very confusing. Never-the-less, it is critically important that you understand the which, how, and when of each of the acid reflux drugs.
First, which drug you are taking is important_._ Medicines have two names - the general chemical name and the trade name the drug company gives the medication. For example, omeprazole is the general, or generic name, and Prilosec is a trade name for the same medication. It is therefore important to understand that just because two drugs have completely different trade names, they can still be the same drug.
Next, you need to know how the medication works, or is supposed to work, in your body. For example, Maalox, a trade name for an antacid, works to neutralize acid in the stomach, which raises the pH in the esophagus to a more comfortable level. On the other hand, a proton pump inhibitor, such as Nexium, works by slowing down your body’s production of stomach acid. Understanding how a medication works can help you in managing your condition, especially if you understand that some medications are fast-acting (like Maalox), and some can take weeks to make a difference (like Nexium).
When to take (or give) an acid reflux medication is also vitally important. For example, you should never take, or give, an H-2 blocker (such as Zantac) at the same time as a proton pump inhibitor (such as Prevacid). This is because the H-2 blocker will prevent the proton pump inhibitor from working. This is just one example of the importance of understanding when the medications should be taken, especially if you have been given more than one prescription by your healthcare provider.
If you are considering using medications to treat your, or your child’s acid reflux symptoms, your pharmacist may be a good source for information. Our book, Acid Reflux in Infants and Children is also a good source. It contains a fabulous chapter on acid reflux medication that will benefit anyone taking, or considering taking acid reflux medication. This chapter was written by Dr. Phillips at the University of Missouri, who has a doctorate degree in pharmacology and understands the which, how, and when of reflux medications. His chapter continues to be a great resource for me and my family.