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Best medicine for acid reflux 2023: The best antacid medicine to keep heartburn at bay

Don’t let acid reflux ruin a good meal: keep your digestive system in check with our top picks of pharmacist-approved acid reflux medicine

Acid reflux can present itself in various symptoms such as bloating, nausea, a sour taste in the mouth, and – the most common pain of all – the awful, burning sensation in the chest known as heartburn. And it can be caused by an array of factors including the ingestion of certain food or drink, smoking, and even stress or anxiety.

Some people experience it more frequently and more intensely than others and it can be a real burden to live with. The good news is that, since it’s such a common problem, you can find many over-the-counter solutions at your local pharmacy that can save the day.

It’s worth noting, though, that some causes of heartburn and acid reflux go beyond the typical and fairly harmless, like eating spicy foods – gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), oesophagitis, Barrett’s oesophagus, and even cancer of the oesophagus all commonly include acid reflux as a symptom. So if you tend to suffer from chronic heartburn, seek medical advice from your GP before taking over-the-counter medicines.

Additionally, if you’re pregnant, it’s important that you don’t take any medicine until you clear it with your doctor first, even if it’s labelled as safe for pregnancy.

Read on to discover some of the top treatments for acid reflux, approved by UK pharmacists, and our brief buying guide to look at some of the things to consider when selecting a medicine to treat acid reflux.

Best medicine for acid reflux: At a glance

How to choose the best medicine for acid reflux

Acid reflux can be painful and disruptive to everyday life but there are many treatments out there that can help and there are a few things to look out for.

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What types of acid reflux medicine are available?

The types of acid reflux medicine that can be purchased without a prescription can be separated into two main categories – antacids and acid reducers.

Antacids are medicines that help to neutralise the acid in the stomach that causes all of the symptoms related to acid reflux. Antacids usually work pretty quickly in relieving symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux, and are usually advised to be taken after a meal, which is when most people experience indigestion and heartburn. Some common examples of antacids are aluminium hydroxide, magnesium carbonate, calcium carbonate, and sodium bicarbonate.

Acid reducers on the other hand, which are often known as proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, are another type of OTC medicine for people who experience acid reflux on a regular basis (more than twice a week). This medicine works by reducing the amount of acid the stomach produces, and is more of a preventative treatment than for instant relief of symptoms. It can actually take a few days to see the effects of this type of medicine, and can be used along with antacids.

Many of these treatments are ideal for short-term episodes of heartburn and acid reflux. However, it is important to note that should symptoms persist, even after these treatments, you need to consult with your doctor, as it could be a sign of a more severe problem, such as GORD, inflammation and narrowing of the oesophagus, or even respiratory problems.

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How long should I take acid reflux medicine for?

Whilst antacids will instantly relieve the symptoms of an average bout of acid reflux, the NHS warns that it should not be taken as a long-term solution, as it will not treat any underlying issues. So it is essential that you consult with your GP if symptoms persist. Some antacids can also cause troublesome side effects, and if that is the case, then you should stop taking the medicine immediately, and contact your GP.

Proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole, can be taken daily for a maximum of two weeks (unless approved by your doctor). The effects of the medicine are usually seen after two or three days, and you can stop taking it as soon as you feel better.

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The best acid reflux medicine to buy in 2023

1. Gaviscon Double Action Liquid Heartburn and Indigestion Relief: Best overall antacid medicine

Price: £11 | Buy now from Amazon

With the help of three active ingredients – sodium alginate, sodium bicarbonate and calcium carbonate – Gaviscon’s double action liquid is the perfect solution for treating heartburn and indigestion.

The medicine works by neutralising the excess acids that form in the stomach, and also helps to soothe and relieve heartburn by creating a protective layer between the acids in your stomach and the food pipe. Heartburn is essentially caused by excess acid not remaining in the stomach, so the protective layer is what makes this medicine so effective.

The medicine can be taken up to four times a day, and it is advised to be taken after meals and at bedtime. It is suitable for use in pregnancy – after you’ve cleared it with your doctor – and is also suitable for vegans. Another plus is that the peppermint flavour goes down pretty well, unlike some other chalky-tasting medicines.

Key details – Form: Liquid; Units: 600ml; Active ingredients: Sodium alginate, sodium bicarbonate, and calcium carbonate

2. Guardium by Gaviscon: Best overall PPI medicine

Price: £9.55 | Buy now from Amazon

If you frequently suffer from acid reflux and heartburn, it’s worth trying out Guardium by Gaviscon. The medicine contains the active ingredient esomeprazole which helps to reduce the acid production in your stomach – it’s also used to treat indigestion and GORD, and can help to prevent stomach ulcers from forming too.

One tablet per day will provide up to 24 hours of protection from heartburn, and is to be used as a short-term treatment only. The pack contains 14 tablets which, once taken, should start to work within an hour, although they are not actually designed to provide instant relief and can be combined with antacids, such as sodium bicarbonate, if necessary.

The full effects of the medicine can be seen after around two to three days, although it could take slightly longer. It is advised to speak to a doctor if the medicine does not work after two weeks.

Key details – Form: Tablets; Quantity: 14; Active ingredients: Esomeprazole

3. Rennie Liquid Antacid: Best antacid medicine for pregnant women

Price: £5.99 | Buy now from Superdrug

Rennie’s liquid acid reflux medicine is another antacid treatment that will help with the fast relief of acid reflux and heartburn. Rennie is one of the well established and well known brands specialising in medicines for the relief of indigestion.

The product is suitable to be used by pregnant women – who are very likely to go through a spell of heartburn and indigestion at some point in their pregnancy. It is also suitable to be used by children over 12, and is vegetarian-friendly as well.

The active ingredients in this liquid medicine are sodium bicarbonate, sodium alginate and calcium carbonate, all of which are antacids that help to neutralise the excess acids that form during an episode of heartburn, and relieve the pain quickly.

Key details – Form: Liquid; Units: 250ml; Active ingredients: Sodium bicarbonate, sodium alginate and calcium carbonate

Buy now from Superdrug

4. Nexium Control Heartburn and Acid Reflux Tablets: Best alternative PPI medicine

Price: £11 | Buy now from Amazon

Nexium Control is another short-term treatment widely available at most drugstores. There are a standard 14 tablets in one pack, as it is recommended to only use them for a maximum of two weeks before consulting a doctor.

Since the medicine contains esomeprazole, it will help your body to not produce so much acid which, in turn, will reduce acid reflux and its painful accompanying symptoms. But it is not suitable for use during pregnancy.

Again, like other products that contain esomeprazole, the results can be seen after two or three days, and it is safe to use the medicine with antacids. But you should not use the medicine with other PPI-containing products, as this could be harmful for your health.

Key details – Form: Tablets; Units: 14; Active ingredients: Esomeprazole

5. Rennie Peppermint Tablets: Best chewable antacid tablets

Price: £4.99 | Buy now from Boots

Since heartburn and acid reflux are mainly caused by food, symptoms can hit you at the most inconvenient moments – while dining out with friends, for example – so Rennie’s peppermint tablets are great to have on you, and can save your day, or night out, from being ruined.

These chewable tablets contain calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate which are antacids that help to relieve discomfort. This medicine is suitable for pregnant women and children over 12 years old. However, it is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans as it contains gelatine.

The chewable tablets are peppermint flavoured, and there are 72 in a pack, which is also great value.

Key details – Form: Tablets; Units: 72; Active ingredients: Calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate

Buy now from Boots

6. Boots acid reflux gastro-resistant tablets: Best PPI medicine for pregnant women

Price: £15 | Buy now from BootsBoots has its own brand of acid reflux medicine which contains omeprazole – which is another type of PPI. Similar to esomeprazole, omeprazole reduces the amount of acid the stomach produces.

The pack contains 14 sodium-free tablets which are to be used to temporarily treat heartburn and acid reflux. Each pill will give you up to 24 hours of protection, to increase your chances of a good night’s sleep and a pain-free day.
Although slightly pricier than other PPI medications, the big advantage omeprazole has over esomeprazole is that it is safe for use during pregnancy (as long as you’ve consulted your doctor first).

Key details – Form: Tablets; Units: 14; Active ingredients: Omeprazole

Buy now from Boots

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