If you experience heartburn, what are the alternatives to taking a PPI?
For intermittent symptoms, just lifestyle change might be enough. Certain foods increase gastric acid secretion, so avoid alcohol—in particular white wine—and tomatoes, garlic, onion, peppermint, chocolate, and citrus fruit. As people gain weight in the abdominal region, reflux may worsen, so losing weight, as little as 5 percent, can make a difference. Also, no large meals within three hours of sleeping. And raise the head up 6 inches when reclining.
Are there other medications that might help?
Antacids, like Tums, operate on the assumption that you neutralize the acid that is coming up from the stomach into the esophagus. They work pretty quickly but tend not to work for a long period of time and tend not to be that effective. If you experience symptoms one to two times per week, H-2 receptor blockers like Zantac and Pepcid appear to work, and they're faster in onset than PPIs. H-2 receptor blockers can be as fast as 19 minutes. The problem is they don’t block acid as effectively as a PPI, and they don’t last as long as a PPI. Also, the more regularly you take H-2 receptor blockers, the less well they work. PPIs take from 90 minutes to three hours to start working. But they're very effective.