Treatment for acid reflux includes lifestyle changes, pharmacy medicines, prescription medicines or surgery. Your treatment will depend on how severe your symptoms are, as well as your overall health.
Your digestive health specialist at OneWelbeck can discuss these various treatments and recommend which ones would be right for your individual circumstances.
Making certain lifestyle changes can help to reduce the symptoms of acid reflux. These changes include:
- Losing weight if you’re overweight or obese
- Improving your posture, sitting up straighter
- Avoiding tight-fitting clothes
- Giving up smoking
- Avoiding stooping, bending or lying down after eating
- Raising the head of your bed by 6 to 8 inches
If you keep getting heartburn, then speak to a pharmacist for advice. They can recommend over-the-counter treatments that can help to ease your symptoms. These include:
- Antacids: Antacids are a group (class) of medicines which help to neutralise the acid content of your stomach. They include aluminium hydroxide, magnesium carbonate and magnesium trisilicate.
- Alginates: This group of medicines help to protect the lining of the gullet (oesophagus) from stomach acid. Alginates include sodium alginate and alginic acid. They are added to various antacid brand medicines.
Prescription medicines for acid reflux
If pharmacy medicines and lifestyle changes don’t reduce (suppress) your acid reflux symptoms, then see a gastroenterology specialist or GP. They may recommend you take a prescription medication. Two types of prescription medicines are available to treat acid reflux:
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
- Histamine receptor blockers (H2 blockers)
Your doctor may advise you to take medicine for one or two months to settle your symptoms. However, some people need long-term, daily medicines, depending on how quickly their symptoms return after stopping antacid treatments.
Acid Reflux Surgery
Most people with acid reflux will not need surgery. The vast majority of people with this condition respond well to appropriate acid suppressing pharmacy medicines.
However, a small number of patients, surgery may wish to have surgery for the following reasons:
- If quality of life is significantly affected by acid reflux
- Failure to respond well to acid-suppressing medicines
- Ongoing symptoms (asthma, dry cough, hoarseness)
- Undesirable side effects from acid-suppressing medicines
- A need to avoid the use of long-term medicines
The standard surgical treatment for acid reflux is:
- Laparoscopic surgery (also known as fundoplication) This operation can ‘tighten’ the lower oesophagus to prevent acid leaking up from the stomach. It is usually carried out by ‘keyhole’ surgery.
Other surgical procedures to reduce or stop acid reflux are currently being investigated. Your gastroenterologist at OneWelbeck can provide you with more information about new surgical methods.