Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive condition that occurs when stomach acid flows backwards into the food pipe, also known as the esophagus. During digestion, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) commonly opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and closes to block stomach acids from flowing back into the esophagus. When the LES does not close normally, stomach acid can flow backwards, causing inflammation in the esophagus. Symptoms of GERD may include heartburn.
Medications that control stomach acid may be used to manage GERD. Antacids such as calcium supplements (Tums) may provide heartburn relief by getting rid of stomach acid. Side effects may include upset stomach. H-2 receptor blockers such as ranitidine (Zantac) work to decrease acid production. Side effects include headache. Proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole (Prilosec) work to block acid production and to help heal the esophagus. Side effects include nausea.