Over-the-counter treatments for abdominal conditions

Q: What should I do to resolve my extreme acid reflux? It is very uncomfortable. Rick N., Westland

A: You need to do lifestyle modifications. If you are overweight you need to lose weight. Also avoid caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, colas) and chocolate. Your last meal should be at least three to four hours before you go to bed. To take care of the acid reflux, also take over-the-counter Prilosec or omeprazole (20 mg). If you still continue to have problems then you need to see a gastroenterologist to investigate your condition further.

Q: I cannot get my gastritis to go away. Antacids are the only thing that help, but I do not want to take them forever. Is there any cure available or is it just something I have to deal with forever? Jennifer S., Southgate

A: First try taking over-the-counter Zantac (75 mg). If your symptoms persist I suggest speaking with your doctor to check for Helicobacter pylori. H.pylori is a bacteria that infects the stomach and has been linked to the development of ulcers and stomach cancer. Whichever test you take (blood or breath test or endoscopy), if the result is positive, then it can be cured with antibiotics.

Q: How can I tell if I am getting an ulcer? If taking occasional over-the-counter acid reducers stops the discomfort, is there anything to worry about? Cliff A., Dearborn

A: Typical ulcer pain is located just above the navel. It is a burning pain which is relieved by eating food and becomes more intense when you are hungry. If this pain is reduced by an over-the-counter protein pump inhibitor (Prevacid, Prilosec or Zegerid), then you do not have anything to worry about. But, if the pain persists then you need to be checked for H. pylori (see more about H. pylori in the previous question’s answer).

Sudarshan Singal, M.D. is board-certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology. His practices are at 2070 Biddle, Suite 1, in Wyandotte, and 4160 John R, Suite 608, in Detroit. Do you have a health question for Dr. Mekasha? Submit it by email to: askthedoctor@cscmi.net.

All information provided in Ask The Doctor is intended for your general knowledge. Consult with your personal doctor or pharmacist for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of information you have read in any publication.