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Gaviscon Advance seems to help treat acid reflux

Dear Dr. Roach: I am almost 78 years old and have acid reflux. It is pretty well under control. I have been on Prilosec or omeprazole (once a day, before breakfast) since 2009. I am careful about what I eat and when, particularly in the evening. We have raised the head of our bed about 4 inches. I have had one endoscopy to stretch a stricture, and the report is that everything looked OK.

In my desire to get off PPIs, my gastroenterologist has me taking a reflux suppressant, Gaviscon Advance, 2 teaspoons daily at bedtime. This nonprescription medication is ordered from England via Amazon. He says the product available in the U.S. does not have the ingredient that the Advance from England has.

The idea is that I begin tapering off the omeprazole and substituting the Gaviscon Advance. It also comes in chewable tablets. According to the bottle label, it forms a protective layer that floats on the stomach’s contents, preventing reflux. I would like to have your opinion of this medication. — C.P.

Answer: The U.K. version of Gaviscon Advance contains potassium bicarbonate, an antacid, and sodium alginate, which is intended to form a physical barrier to reflux. I reviewed several scientific studies confirming its effectiveness, both in relieving symptoms and in protecting the stomach from excess acid. It’s a novel approach to the problem, and it might be appropriate for someone who can’t take other treatments or in whom other treatments do not work.

I had trouble getting it from the U.K. site, but none at all from the Canada Amazon site.

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