What Are the Best Over The Counter Solutions for Heartburn?
Everyone loves to indulge in delicious fried foods or a night of drinking with friends. However, a lot of people are unprepared several hours later when these indulgent treats trigger an unexpected consequence — heartburn.
Heartburn is a normal event that can occur after eating large meals, drinking alcohol, or even eating a dish that’s heavy in tomatoes, onions, or citrus. Most people experience heartburn as a burning pain just below their breastbone. It typically goes away in a few hours or you can use an over-the-counter remedy.
To help deal with heartburn, these are some of the best over the counter solutions.
Tums were created by a pharmacist in 1928 to help his wife’s indigestion. Its active ingredient is calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is a naturally-occurring ingredient that works to neutralize acid in the stomach, so it doesn’t travel up the esophagus and result in painful heartburn. Unlike some of the other products we’re profiling today, Tum’s works by neutralizing stomach acid, rather than reducing the amount of stomach acid present.
Tum’s offers a number of different antacid products for heartburn relief, like:
- Tums Regular Strength 500
- Tums Chewy Delights
- Tums Chewy Bites with Gas Relief
Many people who don’t enjoy the chalky taste of the regular strength Tums have switched over to the Chewy Delights, which are a bit more palatable.
Tums can be found in most grocery stores and pharmacies and are reasonably priced. Each product is between $6.49 and $10.49.
Nexium is the brand name of the generic medication esomeprazole, which helps to reduce stomach acid. It’s useful for people who experience heartburn one to two times per week.
It cuts down on the amount of stomach acid present, which reduces the amount of acid that’s available to splash up into the esophagus. You can take it with food or without, so it’s ideal if you know that you get heartburn after consuming a specific type of food. In fact, you can take it with that meal, and deal with the symptoms of heartburn before they even occur. Taking one regular capsule of Nexium per day helps to completely eliminate regular heartburn.
The Nexium brand only manufactures one product: Nexium 24HR Delayed Release Heartburn Relief Capsules, which are intended to be taken once a day on a regular basis. They’re available in packs of 14 or 42, which are a two-week and six-week supply respectively. Each pill costs 50 cents, which means you’ll be spending around $17 for a month’s supply. Although these pills are convenient, they do come with some potential side effects, including headaches, sweating, nausea, and diarrhea.
Zantac is a brand name for a generic medication called ranitidine. Like Nexium, the medication in Zantac helps to decrease stomach acid production. This means that instead of treating heartburn that’s already occurring, Zantac is ideal for the long-term prevention of heartburn. It’s available without a prescription in smaller doses, but in larger amounts, it’s frequently used by doctors to treat and prevent ulcers.
In the over the counter format, Zantac is offered in a few different dosages. Customers can choose between purchasing tablets that contain 75mg of ranitidine (regular strength) or 150mg of the active ingredient (maximum strength).
Generally, a 65-pack of Maximum Strength 150mg Zantac costs $22.99, while a 50-pack of Regular Strength 75mg Zantac retails for $18.99. The 150mg pills are only a few cents more each, so it’s a better deal to buy the Maximum Strength if you need them.
Ranitidine is considered one of the safest medications out there, so side effects are infrequent.
Another medication that works in a similar way to Zantac and Nexium is Pepcid, which contains the active ingredient famotidine. Like active ingredients in these other products, famotidine helps to reduce stomach acid.
It’s recommended that if you’re taking the over-the-counter formula, it works best when taken with a glass of water 15 to 60 minutes before eating foods that you think may give you heartburn. Take no more than two tablets per day, and if use it more than 14 days in a row, consult a doctor.
Pepcid is available in a few different dosages and formats, including:
- Pepcid Complete Acid Reducer + Antacid Chewable Tablets
- Pepcid AC Acid Reducer Tablets Maximum Strength
- Pepcid AC Acid Reducer Tablets Original Strength
These different options cost between $11.49 and $21.99. While Pepcid is effective, the medication famotidine has been known to cause side effects like headaches and dizziness.
The active ingredient in Prilosec is a medication called omeprazole, which is similar to esomeprazole, the active ingredient in Nexium. Prilosec is generally taken before the meal that may give you heartburn and is intended to be swallowed whole. Manufacturers urge you not to crush or break it before ingestion. It may take between one and four days for the medication to take effect, so take it several days in a row for best results.
Prilosec is only available in one dosage and customers can choose to purchase it in Regular or Wildberry flavors. A two-week supply costs $11.99. If you purchase a larger package, the price-per-pill goes down.
All these medications are formulated to help heartburn but work in different ways. If you occasionally have mild heartburn, a package of Tums is a good thing to have around. If you get heartburn on a regular basis — once or twice a week — having a package of Prilosec, Pepcid, Zantac, or Nexium will help limit the amount of acid in your stomach that causes this painful condition.
If you have heartburn more than twice a week or if it persists for more than two weeks, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor. Heartburn can be a symptom of a more complex medical condition.