medications heartburn

Managing Heartburn: A Guide to Medications for Seniors

Published On: October 9, 2023By Tags: ,

As we age, it’s not uncommon to experience changes in our digestive system. One common discomfort that many seniors face is heartburn. This condition occurs when stomach acid backs up into the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach (esophagus), causing a burning sensation in the chest area. Fortunately, there are various medications available that can help alleviate this discomfort. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common medications for heartburn and provide valuable tips on how to use them safely.

  1. Antacids

Antacids are over-the-counter medications that work by neutralizing stomach acid. They are often the first line of defense against heartburn and can provide quick relief. Some popular antacids include Tums, Rolaids, and Maalox.

Dosage and Tips:

  • Follow the recommended dosage instructions on the packaging.
  • Take antacids 1 to 3 hours after meals or as directed by your healthcare provider.
  • Be cautious with calcium-based antacids, especially if you have kidney problems or are on a calcium-restricted diet.
  1. H2 Receptor Blockers (H2RAs)

H2 receptor blockers are available both over-the-counter and by prescription. They work by reducing the amount of acid produced by the stomach. Familiar brands include Zantac (ranitidine), Pepcid (famotidine), and Tagamet (cimetidine).

Dosage and Tips:

  • Take H2RAs before meals or at bedtime, as directed by your doctor.
  • Be aware that some H2RAs may interact with certain medications. Consult your healthcare provider before starting a new medication.
  1. Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)

Proton pump inhibitors are powerful medications available both over-the-counter and by prescription. They work by blocking the enzyme responsible for acid production in the stomach. Examples include Prilosec (omeprazole), Nexium (esomeprazole), and Prevacid (lansoprazole).

Dosage and Tips:

  • Take PPIs before meals, preferably in the morning, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
  • Long-term use of PPIs may have some side effects, so consult your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
  1. Alginate-based Medications

Alginate-based medications create a protective barrier in the stomach to prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus. Brands like Gaviscon are popular in this category.

Dosage and Tips:

  • Take alginate-based medications after meals and at bedtime, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
  • These medications are generally safe, but consult your doctor if you have any concerns.
  1. Lifestyle Changes

In addition to medication, there are several lifestyle changes that can help manage heartburn:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Avoid trigger foods and beverages such as spicy or acidic items, caffeine, and alcohol.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Elevate the head of your bed when sleeping.
  • Avoid lying down for at least two hours after meals.


Heartburn can be a persistent and uncomfortable condition, but with the right medications and lifestyle adjustments, you can find relief. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new medication, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking other medications. Remember, managing heartburn is a journey, and finding the right combination of treatments may take some time. Stay patient and be proactive in seeking the best solutions for your unique needs.


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