H2 Receptor Antagonists for Treating Acid Reflux
H2 receptor antagonists or H2 blockers, as they are commonly known, are a common form of acid reflux medication used to address acid reflux and heartburn by reducing the level of acid produced in the stomach.
H2 blockers are available as a prescription and in non-prescription or over-the-counter dosages. While effective in short term, H2 blockers are not recommended for long-term use and cannot correct the cause of GERD.
Examples of common H2 blockers sold in the United States include:
- Pepcid and Pepcid AC
- Axid and Axid AR
- Zantac and Zantac 150
- Tagamet and Tagamet HB
How they Work
H2 blockers reduce the intensity of heartburn and acid reflux by reducing the production of acid in the stomach. When digestive juices reach the intestine, they are not as irritating due to the lack of acid. This permits the esophagus to heal and reduces the uncomfortable symptoms of acid reflux disease.
However, this form of medication is not regarded as a long-term solution to acid reflux disease. As you take H2 blockers, digestive juices are still permitted to flow freely into the esophagus. While the acid production is reduced, this will not cause as much irritation. Once use of the H2 blockers has stopped the pain and irritation of heartburn will return.
H2 blockers are associated with the following side effects:
- Damage to the Pancreas
- Intestinal ulcers or stomach sores
- Damage to the intestinal lining
- Difficulty breathing
In addition, acid is actually necessary in the stomach. Acid helps to break down food during digestion. By reducing the amount of acid in the stomach, you may be inhibiting your body’s ability to properly digest and absorb nutrients.
To successfully treat acid reflux disease, it is essential to stop the flow of digestive juices into the esophagus by repairing the damaged lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This can be accomplished through acid reflux surgery, including minimally and non-invasive procedures that are completed orally, with minimally recovery and post-operative downtime.