Acid in your stomach helps digest food, but your body makes much more than it needs. Shutting down production of this stinging stuff means there will be less of it swishing around in your stomach, just waiting to wash upward and burn your esophagus. Pharmacies sell low-dose, over-the-counter (OTC) versions of medications that block stomach acid from forming. (The higher doses of these drugs are available only by prescription.) These so-called H2 (or histamine) blockers, such as cimetidine (Tagamet HB) and ranitidine (Zantac 75), seem to help about half of heartburn sufferers.Medications called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are even more effective at reducing acid.
Most of these drugs require a prescription, however. And even though one PPI, omeprazole (Prilosec), is available OTC, most gastroenterologists recommend patients undergo endoscopy (a diagnostic procedure in which a lighted, flexible tube is inserted through the mouth and down the throat to visualize the upper gastrointestinal tract) before beginning treatment with a PPI.