Heartburn Headache

People spend more than a billion dollars a year on over-the-counter heartburn remedies. And the makers of these remedies spend almost 150 million dollars to try to get you to buy their product. But Consumer Reports says their ads won't necessarily help you figure out which remedy is right for you. Here's how to decipher your seemingly endless options.

In the drugstore, you'll find an overwhelming amount of heartburn remedies on the shelves. Trying to choose between them is enough to give you heartburn.

Consumer Reports Ronni Sandroff says the choices are confusing. But armed with some basic information, you can pick the right remedy for what ails you.

"There are three different types of remedies. Two prevent heartburn, and one treats heartburn once you have it."

Antacids like Tums, Rolaids and Mylanta are designed to quickly relieve an attack that’s already underway.

Products like Pepcid AC, Tagamet HB and Zantac 75 are H-two blockers. You take one of these before a meal that gives you heartburn.

"And they can take about an hour to start working, but they last about 10 hours"

Prilosec is a third type — a proton pump inhibitor. It recently became available over-the-counter. Proton pump inhibitors are the most effective for heartburn, but can take days to start working.

"So you need to take it regularly. And it's only for people who have chronic or very frequent heartburn."

So if you love food that doesn't love you back, keep the differences in mind in order to get the heartburn relief you need.

Consumer Reports says there is one heartburn remedy that does do two jobs. Pepcid Complete is both an antacid and an H-two blocker. It's a good choice if you have heartburn attacks that last a long time, or come back after a regular antacid wears off. Also, since all of these drugs can interact with other medications, if you are taking another drug, like an antibiotic, be sure to read the labels carefully.


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