According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, 10 out of every 100 Americans will suffer an ulcer in their lifetime. Many over-the-counter (OTC) medications are available to relieve your pain and assist the healing process. Each medication has a separate function, though the drugs serve the same purpose: pain relief and acid digestion. You can choose from acid neutralizers, acid blockers and drugs that stop acid production altogether.
Antacids are a quick fix to stopping ulcer-induced pains. They do not work long term, and antacids do not cure the problem. However, antacids like Tums, Rolaids and milk of magnesia are inexpensive and work quickly--usually within minutes. These medications work by neutralizing the acid with a mineral or electrolyte. For instance, Drugs.com discusses the use of oyster shell as an antacid due to its calcium component. You can usually purchase antacids at a gas station or convenience mart, making them a great choice for someone on the go.
Another category of OTC ulcer medications is the H2 blockers. Zantac and Pepcid, which used to be available by prescription only, are effective H2 blockers that that you can purchase at any drug store. According to the Mayo Clinic, these drugs work by blocking the secretion of acid into your digestive tract, and they can take one to two hours to provide relief. However, the relief provided by the H2 blockers will last longer than that of antacids. Similar to antacids, you can take acid-blocking medications without deference to meals or food intake.
Drugs that stop or decrease actual acid production are known as proton pump inhibitors. Prilosec is a proton pump inhibitor that is available over the counter. These drugs work at the cellular level, shutting off the pump that produces your gastric acid. Although highly effective, the downside to inhibitors is that you must take them one hour before eating for them to have maximum effects.