Best OTC medications for indigestion/heartburn

Best OTC medications for indigestion/heartburn

“Oh, no! I ate pizza and now I have burning up my throat! Help!”

Do not panic, you most likely are experiencing heartburn. Heartburn, also known as indigestion or gastric reflux, is an uncomfortable, burning sensation felt in the upper abdominal area. This occurs when stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus. 

You can treat heartburn with over the counter (OTC) medications. The three classes of OTC medications that treat heartburn are antacids, histamine-2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors.

Antacids work by changing the stomach acid that is causing the heartburn and the OTC medications include Mylanta, Rolaids, and Tums. Histamine-2 Blockers prevent and relieve heartburn by reducing the amount of acid that is produced in the stomach and some OTC medications include Pepcid, Tagemet, and Axid.

If you have frequent heartburn see your doctor as there is a risk of esophageal cancer associated with long term, untreated acid reflux.

The best treatment for heartburn is prevention. Avoid high acid foods like tomatoes, greasy or fried foods, spicy foods, or foods like chocolate or mint which relaxes your esophageal sphincter. Lastly, try not to lay down within 30 minutes of eating.

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) treat more frequent heartburn by reducing the amount of acid produced by the stomach and some OTC medications include Prevacid, Nexium, Prilosec, and Zegerid. PPIs take longer to be effective, however they also work more long-term than other OTC medications.


Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (2021, March 12). Over-the-counter (OTC) heartburn treatment. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved March 2, 2022

This article reviewed by Dr. Jim Liu, MD and Ms. Deb Dooley, APRN.

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