Heartburn and indigestion are symptoms that very common reasons for a visit to a primary care doctor. Most often adjusting peoples dietary habits, and making lifestyle interventions solves these issues. When making dietary and lifestyle changes do not solve the problem utilizing drug therapy with the lowest dose of the least potent medication needed to alleviate symptoms is typically the best course of action. First line therapy is typically an antacid medication like Tums.
If that is not successful, a two week trial of a medication like Prilosec is a reasonable next step. While there are several brand-name medications that are prescription-only, like Nexium, I typically prefer to have people try over-the-counter Prilosec, because it is available without a prescription, it has been around longer than other medications in this category and hence has a better safety track record, and it’s typically less expensive then alternative medications.
Often times after two weeks one can stop the medication without having recurrence of symptoms. Sometimes longer and possibly indefinite duration of therapy is needed.
It’s important to realize that heartburn and indigestion while most of the time are benign symptoms, occasionally they’re something more.
Sometimes a procedure called esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), where a gastroenterologist inserts a fiber-optic camera into the patient’s esophagus, stomach, and the beginning part of their small intestines is indicated to determine whether the symptoms are harbingers of more serious illness.