What is GERD?

GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. It is commonly known as “acid reflux” and occurs when the stomach contents go back up into the esophagus, throat, and/or mouth.

Occasional reflux is normal in healthy adults, children and even infants. Most episodes are brief and do not cause bothersome symptoms.

In contrast, GERD causes bothersome symptoms and may damage the esophagus over time.

What are symptoms of GERD?

The most common symptoms of GERD include:

  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation

The following symptoms may indicate a more serious problem. Contact your provider right away if you experience:

  • Have difficulty or pain with swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Have no appetite or lose weight without trying
  • Persistent sore throat or cough
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting

What are some risk factors of GERD?

  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Obesity
  • Foods (i.e., spicy foods, orange juice, coffee, fatty foods, chocolate)
  • Medications (i.e., aspirin, NSAIDs like ibuprofen, iron)

Is there anything I can do on my own to feel better?

Yes! There are several lifestyle modifications you can do reduce your symptoms of GERD:

  • Lose weight (if you are overweight)
  • Stop smoking if you smoke
  • Avoid foods that make your symptoms worse like coffee, chocolate, alcohol and fatty foods
  • Avoid late meals – lying down with your stomach can make your reflux worse
  • Avoid tight clothing – some people feel better if they wear comfortable clothing

What medications are available over the counter (OTC) to treat GERD?

Severity of Symptoms Drug Class Drug name: Generic (Brand)
Mild Symptoms Antacids* Calcium Carbonate (i.e., Tums, Maalox)
Moderate to Severe Symptoms Histamine Blockers Famotidine (Pepcid)
Cimetidine (Tagamet
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) Omeprazole (Prilosec)
Esomeprazole (Nexium)
Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
Pantoprazole (Protonix)

*Preferred in pregnant patients

What should I know before taking these medications?

Do NOT take OTC medications if you are currently taking:

  • Clopidogrel
  • Epclusa
  • Harvoni
  • Vosevi

Always consult your doctor before starting a new medication. If symptoms get worse, contact your provider immediately.

Written by:

Javeria Ali
PharmD Candidate 2023
Temple University School of Pharmacy