Friday, June 5, 2009

Finding the Best Heartburn Medicine for You

Heartburn is a common problem that faces almost everyone at one time or another. Although heartburn is rarely a serious condition, it can be painful enough to get in the way of daily activities. In some cases, the burning becomes so intense; it is mistaken for the symptoms of a heart attack. Whether you suffer from heartburn once a week or once in a blue moon, there are effective methods to relieve the painful symptoms. You can head to the pharmacy or talk to your doctor about the best heartburn medicine for you.

What is Heartburn?

Before heading out to choose the best heartburn medicine for your needs, it helps to understand why heartburn occurs in the first place. At the base of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach, there is a muscle known as the lower esophageal sphincter muscle, or LES. The LES will open up to let food pass into the stomach and then close again to keep digestive acids and partially digested food in the stomach where it belongs. In some cases, the LES will not close properly, allowing some of that acid and food to back up into the esophagus. When the delicate esophageal lining comes in contact with the potent stomach acid, burning and pain result. This condition is what is known as heartburn.

The best heartburn medicine will probably affect the stomach acid in some way, whether to neutralize or reduce acid or to block its production completely. The best heartburn medicine for you will depend in part on how severe and frequent your symptoms are and how effectively simple lifestyle and dietary changes will keep those symptoms under control. In some cases, the best heartburn medicine will also allow for healing of the esophagus, if the lining has been damaged due to frequent exposure to harmful digestive acids. Most of the time, an over the counter heartburn medicine will do the trick.

The fastest heartburn medicine is usually an antacid, which will immediately begin neutralizing the acid in the stomach to bring relief to heartburn symptoms. For many, this is the best heartburn medicine because it is fast acting and easy to carry with them. However, others need longer relief than an antacid will provide. In these situations, the best heartburn medication will be one that reduces stomach acid, such as Pepcid, to bring longer lasting relief from painful symptom. If damage to the esophagus has been diagnosed, the best heartburn medicine will be a proton pump inhibitor that will block acid production and give the esophagus time to heal.

Heartburn can be a painful condition, especially if you are experiencing it frequently. Fortunately, by choosing the best heartburn medicine for your needs, you can keep heartburn – and its painful symptoms – under control.


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