According to the latest statistics, heartburn is one of the most common digestive disorders in the United States. The experts warn that you should be very careful, because if it’s left untreated, acid reflux can cause irritation and damage to the oesophagus, lungs, vocal cords and throat as well as cause pneumonia, ulcers, and breathing problems. This condition can quickly become unmanageable as sufferers have trouble going about their daily lives because of chest pain experienced after meals and throughout the night.
UNFORTUNATELY, more than 15 million Americans currently rely on prescription heartburn medication to manage their symptoms. Proton pump inhibitors, the main medication prescribed for the condition, are currently the most widely prescribed drugs in the world.
The MILLION-DOLLAR question – how does heartburn medication work?
First of all, you should know that there are many different types of heart medications on the market shelves today. And, some of them, like tums and pesto-bismol, are available over-the-counters. And others, like Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium, can only be taken through a prescription.
Heartburn “appears” when stomach acid backs up into the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. Prescripion proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce the production of acid in the stomach. This makes any stomach juice that may reach the esophagus less irritating.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is very important for you to remember – these drugs are not a quick fix. They can have devastating side-effects and multiple studies have shown that 70% of patients taking them don’t actually need them.
Here are just a few risks associated with this medication.
- Kidneys Disease
A recent study, conducted by group of experts at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, has analyzed two sets of data representing more than 250,000 people in an attempt to find a link between PPI use and kidney problems. The experts found that regular users of PPIs were 13% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than acid reflux sufferers that do not take the medication. Other studies have found that PPI use makes patients 20%-50% higher risk of chronic kidney disease. The condition is known to cause toxic overload, fluid retention and central nervous system damage.
- Heart Disease
Study, conducted by scientists at the Stanford University in California, has found that people with gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) who took PPIs had a 16 % risk of heart attack. They were also twice as likely to die from cardiovascular problems. Another study has found that the drug may lead to cardiovascular problems. The findings show that proton-pump inhibitors may not only lower stomach acid, they may also affect the health of the blood vessel itself. This is mostly because of the reduced levels of nitric oxide, a chemical which is produced to protect and relax blood vessels. This can lead to an increased risk of heart attack. According to Dr. John Cooke, chair of cardiovascular sciences at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, PPI users are 16- 21% more likely to suffer a heart attack over a 17-year period than chronic acid reflux suffers who were not taking the medication.
- Fracture Risk
You should also know that the FDA has issued warnings about the increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures associated to PPI use. PPI use of at least 7 years was shown to make patient two times more likely to suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture. The experts also warn that 5 years of regular use was associated with an increase risk of hip fractures. Other affected areas included the wrist and spine.
- Nutrient Malabsorption
We all know that the stomach acid is important for the body to absorb vitamin B12 and magnesium. Other nutritional deficiencies caused by the drug include calcium and iron.
This can lead to:
- Muscle spasms
- Nerve damage
- Psychiatric problems
NOTE: acid reflux medication can cause these problems within the first year of use. Unfortunately, supplements cannot remedy these deficiencies as long as the drugs are still being taken. And, one last thing – PPIs have also been linked to pneumonia and Clostridium difficile infection and PPI therapy has led to an increase in hospital mortality in about 90% of patients.
How to Manage Acid Reflux
NOTE: PPI prescription is an inappropriate treatment for most patients. They claim that all sufferers MUST start by changing their diet, stop smoking or reduce their alcohol consumption.
- People, stomach acid plays an important role in breaking down food and absorbing nutrients, and also kills bacteria and microbes. And, long-term maintenance use of acid-suppressing drugs like proton pump inhibitors may disrupt these processes and make people more susceptible to both infections and nutritional deficits, experts say.
- Well, you can fix your acid reflux by taking ½ teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water after your meal and every two hours until your symptoms subside. Sodium bicarbonate, which your pancreas and kidneys already produce naturally, neutralizes excess acid.
- You should also know that heartburn can also be caused by your body producing too little acid and therefore not being able to digest your food properly. And, according to the experts, this is especially true for adults over the age of 50. Too little acid is typically caused by poor diet and candida overgrowth. To prevent symptoms, drink 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces of water before each meal.