six signs your acid reflux medication isn't working

Millions of people in the US suffer from acid reflux, either on an occasional or frequent basis, and as of this year over 15 million Americans are using either over-the-counter or prescription medication to help them deal with their symptoms.

Reflux medications can bring some pretty significant relief to patients struggling with reflux and heartburn, especially if their reflux isn’t chronic. That being said, they don’t always work like they’re supposed to. Every patient is different, and there are many cases where medication isn’t an appropriate treatment for your symptoms. Here are 6 tell-tale signs that your acid reflux medication isn’t working:

Sign 1: You Continue to Get Symptoms of Heartburn

You continue to get chest pain or burning in the chest after eating. Even though you take your medication, this happens regularly. Your heartburn occurs every few days or daily with no relief in sight.  Whether it occurs right away or an hour or two after eating, the symptoms make every day life miserable.

Sign 2: Your Symptoms Worsen When Resting or Sleeping

When you lie down after eating or sleep at night, you often wake up with heartburn or a stomach ache. Waking up late at night with heartburn is not enjoyable, and in many cases it can take hours to settle down and get back to sleep. This doesn’t just go for night-time reflux, though! If you’re waking up after a nap with indigestion, that’s another red flag. This is a sign your medication isn’t doing its job and eliminating your symptoms, so it may be time to consider an alternative like anti-reflux surgery.

Sign 3: Your Symptoms Occur After Eating

After eating a meal you experience heartburn, gas, and stomach upset. Big meals could be part of the problem, so eating smaller meals later in the day might help. Watch what you eat, just because you take medications for your reflux doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. Too much spicy or acidic food can cause symptoms even with medications. Still, if you’re noticing that your trigger foods are still causing heartburn, your medication is not working properly.

Sign 4: You’re Still Experiencing A Bitter Taste and Frequent Regurgitation

You’re still getting a sour taste in your mouth after a meal or just at random points throughout the day. It may come after breakfast, lunch, or dinner, disrupting your day. You may even get a bitter taste that wakes you up at night, causing you to wake up choking. This is not normal, especially if you’re taking acid reflux medications.

Sign 5: You’re Noticing Hoarseness and Extra Saliva

A great tell-tale sign that your reflux medication isn’t working properly is your voice. If you’re noticing that in the morning your voice is scratchy and you have to clear your throat frequently, you’re either catching a cold or acid is getting into your lungs from reflux. If it occurs often then it may be a sign the medication is not effective. Additionally, you may notice your mouth producing extra saliva. This is an indicator that you’re experiencing reflux, and it a sign that it’s time to call the doctor about your medication.

Sign 6: You’re A Bloated, Burping Nightmare

Bloating and burping are two of the most common effects of acid reflux, and chances are they’re one of the reasons you started taking medication in the first place. Nobody enjoys feeling bloated, and frequent burping isn’t exactly one of the most attractive traits in an individual either. If you’ve been taking your reflux medication for a while and are still dealing with frequent bloating and burping, that’s an easy way to tell they’re not working like they should be.  

When reflux medications don’t work, it can be frustrating. The problem is that there are a million reasons why they might not be functioning like they’re supposed to. Maybe you’re not taking them properly. Maybe you need a stronger dose. Maybe there are some lifestyle changes you need to start making to help your medication work more effectively, or maybe medication simply isn’t the answer to your reflux issues. For patients with chronic reflux, especially in cases where it’s severe, in many cases the only way to see true alleviation of symptoms is to treat the underlying cause with minimally invasive surgery. Medications can be great for dealing with occasional reflux, but this is the best way to relieve reflux disease.