H2 (Histamine-2) Blockers

If you are suffering from heartburn symptoms (pain or burning in the chest, pain when lying down, etc.) more than two times a week, you are in the frequent heartburn category and need to speak with a doctor about what medications you can take for heartburn relief such as histamine-2 receptor antagonists, also known as H2 blockers.

H2 blockers reduce the amount of acid in your stomach by attaching to H2 receptor areas on the cells located in the walls of stomach. The H2 blocker does just what its name states: block the H2 receptors, which in turn slows the stomach’s creation of acid. Less acid means less acid that can reach your esophagus and cause heartburn symptoms.

This medication does not treat the cause of your heartburn or acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Heartburn and acid reflux/GERD occur when the esophageal sphincter, the muscle found at the bottom of your esophagus, relaxes abnormally or weakens. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) works as a valve, opening to allow food and liquid to flow down into your stomach and closing to keep acid and food from flowing back up the esophagus. When you eat fatty foods, lie down or bend over, or have excess weight that puts pressure on the sphincter muscle causing it to open slightly, acid may flow back into your esophagus. H2 Blockers diminish the amount of acid that in turn can reach the esophagus through the dysfunctional LES.

Other medications, like PPIs, also known as proton pump inhibitors, are also used to treat frequent heartburn symptoms, but further investigation with an upper endoscopy is recommended for patients who have GERD symptoms that persist despite 8 weeks on twice-daily PPI therapy.