Medical Treatment

Peter J. Lydon, MD, FACS
When lifestyle changes do not relieve the symptoms of GERD, then medications are usually prescribed.

The first medications used are H-2 blockers. These drugs suppress stomach production of acid. Their common names are Axid, Pepcid, Tagamet, and Zantac. Some of these are sold over the counter.

If these are not sufficient then a drug that increases peristalsis and perhaps tightens the LES is added. The common name for this drug is Reglan. In those situations when symptoms still persist stronger inhibitors of stomach acid production, proton pump inhibitors such as Prevacid or Prilosec are used instead of H-2 blockers.

Lifestyle changes including limiting the types of foods consumed, avoiding spicy foods and caffeine, and changing the timing of meals can greatly improve symptoms in many patients. Elevation of the head of the bed at night on blocks also can reduce the symptoms of night time reflux.