A November 2012 Wall Street Journal online article noted “Some 44% of Americans have heartburn at least once a month, and 7% have it daily, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. Heartburn that frequent is the most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease, a diagnosis believed to be rising world-wide with obesity and advancing age. One 2004 study cited a 46% increase in GERD-related visits to primary-care physicians over a three-year period alone.”

With so many people affected by heartburn, there are, of course, a lot of relief options — over-the-counter(OTC), prescription (Rx) and natural. We’ve put together a handy chart showing the choices along with side-effects and added ingredients. Which one would you pick?

Category RX/OTC Names Purpose Active Ingredient Inactive Ingredients Side Effects
Antacids Tums®, Maalox®, Rolaids®, Mylanta® Neutralize acid Calcium Carbonate Sucrose, calcium carbonate, corn starch, talc, mineral oil, natural & artificial flavors, adipic acid, sodium polyphosphate, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, FD&C Yellow 5 Lake (tartrazine), Blue 1 Lake Side effects may include increased blood calcium, hypersensitivity, vomiting, mental impairment, malaise, confusion
Oral Suspension Pepto Bismol® Coat the esophagus and stomach Bismuth subsalicylate Benzoic acid, flavor, magnesium aluminum silicate, methylcellulose, red 22, red 28, saccharin sodium, salicylic acid, sodium salicylate, sorbic acid, water Severe allergic reactions (rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue), fever, hearing loss, nausea, ringing in the ears, severe constipation, vomiting
All-Natural Alternative GastroZyme Soothe digestive mucosal lining with herbal and antioxidant support to encourage more complete digestion* Enzyme, antioxidant, and herbal blends Cellulose, water None reported
Histamine type 2 receptor antagonists Pepcid AC®, Zantac® Reduce stomach acid indirectly by preventing the activation of acid production Ranitidine FD&C Yellow No. 6 Aluminum Lake,hypromellose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, titanium dioxide, triacetin, and yellow iron oxide Constipation, headache, and diarrhea are common side effects of Zantac®. Some of the side effects that are less common include muscle or joint pain, blurred vision, and hair loss.
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) Prilosec®, Prevacid®, Nexium® Proton pump inhibitors(PPIs) reduce stomach acid by deactivating acid production directly Esomeprazole magnesium Glyceryl monostearate 40-55, hydroxypropyl cellulose, hypromellose, magnesium stearate, methacrylic acid copolymer type C, polysorbate 80, sugar spheres, talc, and triethyl citrate. The capsule shells have the following inactive ingredients: gelatin, FD&C Blue #1, FD&C Red #40, D&C Red #28, titanium dioxide, shellac, ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, n-butyl alcohol, propylene glycol, sodium hydroxide, polyvinyl pyrrolidone, and D&C Yellow #10 The most common side effects are diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headaches, rash, and dizziness. This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur.