Nighttime Heartburn Treatments: Try These First
There are nondrug treatments, with no safety concerns, and less expensive drugs that may be effective for you; these should be tried before you use any drugs for heartburn. First, try to avoid foods that trigger your condition (e.g., fatty foods, onions, caffeine, peppermint, and chocolate), and avoid alcohol, smoking, and tight clothing. Second, avoid food, and particularly alcohol, within two or three hours of bedtime. Third, elevate the head of the bed about six inches or sleep with extra pillows.
For both heartburn and ulcers, it is important to avoid drug-induced causes. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are known to cause ulcers. Ask your doctor if acetaminophen could be substituted for these drugs. Check with your doctor about the osteoporosis medications alendronate (FOSAMAX) and risedronate (ACTONEL), which irritate the esophagus.
If these measures are not effective, try simple over-the-counter (OTC) antacids such as a generic aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide product (MAALOX, MAALOX TC). If symptoms worsen or bleeding occurs, call your doctor. If this does not relieve your symptoms, one of the family of stomach acid–blocking drugs known as histamine2-blockers can be tried. This family includes cimetidine (TAGAMET), famotidine (PEPCID), nizatidine (AXID), and ranitidine (ZANTAC). Histamine2-blockers are available in both OTC and prescription strengths.
If the OTC histamine2-blockers do not give adequate relief of your symptoms after 14 days, it is time to consult your physician.