It’s estimated that between nearly 30 percent of adult Americans experience acid reflux symptoms every week. In fact, nearly everyone will experience symptoms of acid reflux at some point in their life. Occasional reflux caused by overeating or pregnancy can be quickly relieved with over-the-counter medications like Tums, but chronic acid reflux could be caused by a more serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disorder or GERD and should never be treated with medication.

Many people mistakenly treat the symptoms of chronic acid reflux or GERD rather than the root cause. Below, we will discuss how to treat acid reflux and GERD and why you shouldn’t rely on medication to treat your acid reflux.

Medication for Acid Reflux

Treating acid reflux with medication can be effective short-term for those suffering from acid reflux; however, many medications require long-term use to prevent a relapse in symptoms. Typical reflux medication includes the use of antacids, such as Tums, to neutralize stomach acid and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for more frequent acid reflux.

Side Effects of Heartburn Meds

About 15 million Americans take PPIs regularly for their acid reflux. However, there are serious side effects associated with those medications. PPIs have already been linked to magnesium deficiency, increased incidence of pneumonia and weakened bones as well as an increased risk of chronic kidney disease.

When to Choose Medication for Your Heartburn

With situational or occasional heartburn caused by common factors such as trigger foods, exercise, or just overeating that delicious meal on Thanksgiving occurs, antacids and over-the-counter medications are a suitable choice or easing your uncomfortable acid reflux. If your acid reflux symptoms occur more than 2-3 times a week, however, this is considered chronic acid reflux or GERD, which will require longer-term treatment. In short – acid reflux medications are ok for one-time use only, not as a regular treatment method.

Other Acid Reflux Treatment Options

For GERD or chronic acid reflux treatment, it is likely that your reflux doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery is the only permanently treats GERD symptoms like reflux and heartburn by addressing the root cause of GERD - repairing the weakened muscle that allows stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus. GERD surgery options include LINX, TIF, or Lap Nissen Fundoplication.

If you are experiencing more than occasional acid reflux, it’s best to speak with your doctor about your treatment options rather than treating your acid reflux yourself with medication. Your doctor will weigh the pros and cons of choosing medication for your acid reflux and together you can choose the best method of treatment that will provide you long-term relief from your acid reflux.