Medications for GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can be treated with medication. This may be done with a medication you can buy over the counter. Or it may be done with a medication that your doctor has to prescribe. In some cases, both types may be used. Your doctor will tell you what is best for your symptoms.


Antacids work to weaken the acid in the stomach and can give you quick relief. You can buy many of them with no prescription. Antacids can be high in sodium. This may be a problem if you have high blood pressure. So check with your doctor first. Take antacids only when you need to, as advised by your doctor.

Side effects: Constipation, diarrhea. If you take too much medication, it can cause calcium to build up. 

H-2 Blockers

H-2 blockers cause the stomach to make less acid. They are often used for a short time. Your doctor may prescribe them if antacids do not work for you. You can buy some of them over the counter. These come in a lower dosage.

Side effects: Confusion in elderly patients

Proton-Pump Inhibitors

These also cause the stomach to make less acid. They reduce stomach acid more than H-2 blockers. They are often used for a short time. You can buy them over the counter. Or a doctor may prescribe them. They help control the symptoms of GERD.

Side effects: Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea


These are medications that affect the movement of the digestive tract. They may be used with H-2 blockers. Some make the squeezing action of the esophagus stronger. Some make the stomach empty faster. Only a doctor can prescribe them.

Side effects: Tiredness, depression, anxiety, problems with physical movement, abdominal cramps, constipation, diarrhea, a jittery feeling

Medications to Avoid

Do not take aspirin. And do not take an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen. These reduce the protective lining of your stomach. This can lead to more GERD symptoms. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking a new medication.