Ever had a burning pain in the middle of your chest? How about a feeling that food is coming back up your throat, or an acidic taste in the back of the throat? What about an increasing pain behind the breastbone when you lie down or bend over? If so, you're one of the 60 million American adults who experiences heartburn at least one time each month.

The good news is that treatments are available for all types of symptoms. Occasional heartburn can often be successfully combated with over-the-counter (OTC) medications called antacids or H2 antagonists, and those who have frequent symptoms can purchase proton pump inhibitors.

Needing just OTC medicine generally means that the heartburn is fairly predictable and can be reduced with diet and lifestyle changes. But a persistent problem could mean you are suffering gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), an acid reflux disease that affects nearly 19 million Americans. In either case, it's always best to see your doctor to learn which treatment options are best. After all, there may be something new you've never heard of. Here are some of the latest advancements:



In February 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Kapidex for the treatment of GERD. Kapidex is the first proton pump inhibitor with a delayed release capsule. Researchers conducted studies in 20 countries, using approximately 6,000 patients. David Peura, MD, professor of medicine, University of Virginia Health system, called Kapidex "a new and exciting treatment option for people with GERD."

Kapidex is meant to treat GERD for four weeks. Though it provides relief 24 hours per day, it needs to be taken just once in that period time. This is because it releases the medicine 1 to 2 hours after administration, followed by a second release 4 to 5 hours later. Additionally, it can be taken with food, so you don't have to plan meals around your medicine.



If OTC medicines don't work, you may want to pay attention to a January 2009 study, which compared two non-surgical, non-pharmacological treatments for GERD. The first uses an endoscope to tighten the junction between the esophagus and the stomach. The second sends energy waves to the muscles of the esophagus and stomach, which improves how the valve between the two functions.

Both treatments had notable effects. In a follow-up with just over half the patients six months later, there were decreases in the percentage of those with moderate to severe heartburn and in medicinal dependency. Additionally, both treatments saw a decrease in swallowing difficulties and voice symptoms. And those who were treated with the endoscope saw a decrease in regurgitation, while those treated with the energy waves (radiofrequency) saw a decrease in coughing.