Medications available over the counter for the treatment of acid reflux include antacids, H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs. These medications are sometimes used on their own or in combination with one another to control the symptoms of acid reflux.
Antacids, including Pepto-Bismol, Rolaids, Mylanta, Maalox, Gelusil and Alka-Seltzer, are all useful in combating heartburn caused by stomach acid reaching the esophagus. Generally, the first line of defense for heartburn involves taking antacids; most doctors recommend an antacid before trying anything else. Healthline states that most antacids are usually available as dissolvable or chewable tablets.
H2 blockers act more slowly than antacids but provide longer symptom relief. Designed to reduce acid production in the stomach, H2 blockers are available with and without a prescription. Popular over-the-counter H2 blockers include Tagamet HB, Axid, Zantac and Pepcid AC.
Over-the-counter proton pump inhibitors include Prevacid, Prilosec, Omesec, Losec and Zegerid. PPIs are among the most effective treatments for acid reflux because they block the production of acid in the stomach, providing long-lasting relief of symptoms.
A major difference between over-the-counter PPIs and prescription-strength PPIs is that the OTC versions of PPIs do not heal the esophageal damage that acid reflux causes; PPIs in prescription formula do, according to Healthline.