Using Acid Reflux Medicine to Get Rid of the Annoying Heartburns Alcohol lovers would often love to match their drink with spicy dishes and greasy and fatty foods. The perfect combination makes the drinking perfect to the palate. Unfortunately though, this is bad for the esophagus and the stomach. The alcohol, the spicy dishes and the greasy and fatty foods causes acid reflux or also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Other causes of acid reflux are pregnancy, genetic influences, presence of infection in the gastrointestinal tract, and the Non- Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). The Gastrointestinal System of the body is composed of the following: the oral cavity, the esophagus, the stomach, small intestine, large intestine and the anus. The main function of the Gastrointestinal System is to digest food particles, absorb digestive juices and eliminate undigested materials which are of course the feces. The acid reflux affects the stomach and the esophagus. This occurs when the liquid from the stomach which contains pepsin, an irritating substance produced by the chief cells goes up to the esophagus passing through the cardiac sphincter. The cardiac sphincter is the opening to the stomach from the esophagus. Its function is to prevent reflux of the substances in the stomach because these substances cause esophageal irritation and ulcer. If the cardiac sphincter fails to close after receiving food from the esophagus, acid reflux occurs. Acid reflux is a chronic condition. Once a person suffers from it, it becomes a life-long ordeal. Injury in the esophagus also is a chronic condition. Even if the esophagus has healed with treatment and it is being stopped, the injury will return in most patients within a few months. Once treatment for said illness is begun, it usually needs to be continued indefinitely. Normally, liquid reflux in the stomach occurs to a healthy individual. However, people with the acid reflux or GERD, has more acid in the liquid. This may be caused by the genetic influences, specifically, an increased number of parietal cells which produce pepsin in the stomach. The body has mechanisms to protect itself from the harmful effects of reflux and acid. Most reflux happens during the day when individuals are upright. In said position, the refluxed liquid is more likely to flow back down into the stomach due to gravity. Moreover, while individuals are awake, they continually swallow, regardless if there is reflux or not. Each time individuals swallow the reflux liquid slide back into the stomach. The last body defense to reflux is the salivary glands in the mouth. These glands produce saliva, which contains bicarbonate. Every time an individual swallows, the bicarbonate-containing saliva slides down the esophagus. The bicarbonate neutralizes the small amount of acid that remains in the esophagus. Basically, acid reflux medicines inhibit the production or release of pepsin produced by the chief cells and hydrochloric acid produced by the parietal cells in the stomach. Other medicines may not totally inhibit the production but they neutralize the acid. The acid reflux medicines are the Histamine Blockers or the H2 receptor antagonists. Histamine stimulates a pump in the stomach that releases hydrochloric acid. The H2 receptor antagonists prevent the histamine from stimulating this pump. They block the production of the hydrochloric acid thereby reducing secretion and concentration into the stomach. One of the acid reflux medicines is the Cimetidine which was introduced in 1975. It has a short half-life and short duration of action. The three most popular H2 blockers are Ranitidine, Famotidine and Nizatidine. They are more potent than Cimetidine because in addition to blocking gastric acid secretions, they also promote healing of the ulcer by eliminating its cause. They also have longer duration of action. As the cliché goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, you can avoid having an acid reflux or GERD by avoiding too much smoking and alcohol, and by eating less of spicy and greasy food. When taking NSAIDs, be sure you take it after meals. Lastly, avoid stress because it stimulates the release of the deadly acid. Acid Reflux Medication: Keeping Heartburn at Bay In a normal digestive process, the partially digested food is being forwarded by muscular movements from the stomach to the intestines. However, for some people, the stomach contents travel back to the esophagus from the stomach. This condition is known as acid reflux. Common symptoms of this disease include heartburn, difficulty in swallowing, regurgitation, chest pains, dental erosion, hoarseness, asthma, dyspepsia, vomiting, and many others. If not properly treated, acid reflux can last for several months. But drug treatment can play an essential part in the treatment process of a patient. The most common medications used include the following: Antacids. These drugs are used to neutralize the acids in the digestive tract and are primarily taken in for relief of mild symptoms, such as occasional episodes of indigestion and heartburn. They also act to incite the defensive mechanisms of our stomach by building up the secretion of mucous and bicarbonate. Most antacids can be bought over the counter even without a medical prescription. Moreover, these drugs are one of the first to be recommended by professionals to lessen the pain brought about by heartburn or mild symptoms. The three basic ingredients of antacids are magnesium, calcium, and aluminum. Acid suppressants such as histamine blockers are also commonly used. Histamine blockers obstruct the production of stomach acids by alienating the actions of histamine. Histamine is a chemical in the body that promotes the production and secretion of acids in the stomach. Anti-histamines are available even without prescription and offers relief of symptoms in most of the patients with frequent acid reflux. Patients have to wait for 30 to 90 minutes for these drugs to take effect. But their effect also lasts six to 24 hours. In cases of severe symptoms, a patient may have to take two dosages a day. In some researches, histamine blockers have shown to improve asthmatic symptoms in those who endure from both acid reflux and asthma. However, in a study dated 2001, it was suggested that histamine blockers occasionally impart complete relief of symptoms for dyspepsia and heartburn. Proton pump inhibitors are also employed as a medication. They act to trim down the production of stomach acids by reacting with the cells found in the stomach wall which produce and release acids into the stomach. However, researches have revealed that the use of proton pump inhibitors poses some concerns. Side effects, although uncommon, include diarrhea, headache, itching, and nausea. Moreover, these drugs should also be stayed away from by pregnant and breast-feeding mothers. Another medication that is generally handled is the use of agents which protect the mucus lining in the gastrointestinal region. This kind of drug acts by attaching to an ulcer crater so that it will be guarded from damage caused by digestive acids. It is advisable for people undergoing maintenance therapy with mild or moderate acid reflux conditions. Likewise, it has minor side effects, including constipation. Anti-spasm drugs are also utilized to prevent acid and even non-acid reflux. A gamma- amino acid butyric acid agonist, an anti-spasm drug is generally used to abate the spasms in the muscles. Unlike most medicines used for acid reflux, it can also lessen non-acid refluxes and amplify the pressure in the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle that separates the esophagus from the stomach and prevents backing up of stomach contents.