Heartburn Drugs: Helpful Remedy or Harmful to Your Health?
Millions of people suffer from digestive problems, including acid reflux and heartburn. This is partly evidenced by the endless number of heartburn drugs available – both prescription and over-the-counter. You may be one of the millions who have tried to address your heartburn with option after option. But what you may not know is that the very drugs that are supposed to help ease your heartburn may actually be contributing to the problem!
A recent study which was published in Gastroenterology has thrown up some very disturbing facts. According to this study, which was led by Dr.Cristina Reimer of Copenhagen University in Denmark, the drugs which are most commonly used to treat heartburn and acid reflux might actually be further exacerbating the problem. The drug in question is the proton pump inhibitor (PPI) which is commonly prescribed by medical professionals for treating heart burn and acid reflux.
A team of healthy volunteers were given a PPI for eight weeks. In a highly disturbing find it was seen that all the volunteers who were healthy before taking the drug started suffering from heartburn and acid reflux after stopping the PPI treatment.
Are Heartburn Drugs Completely Ineffective?
The answer to this question is an unequivocal no. Even the people who have conducted the study agree that these drugs do have their place in the gastrointestinal arena. The fact that people who suffer from acid reflux disorder may need some kind of acid suppressant is not debatable. However, PPIs are often prescribed for a number of symptoms without actually narrowing down to the root problem. Such liberal prescribing of PPI drugs is highly irresponsible as these drugs can lead to acid reflux problem in otherwise healthy people.
Are These Acid Reflux Drugs Habit Forming?
It is very common for people who have taken PPIs for some amount of time to develop severe acid reflux and heartburn symptoms soon after stopping the treatment. These drugs have to be taken for extensive lengths of time by people who suffer from severe gastroesophageal disease (GERD) or those who regularly take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin. Such medicines are really hard for your digestives system to work on and can cause acid reflux. However, it is found that about one third of the people taking PPIs regularly do not have these problems but are dependent on PPIs for no real reason.
How can the Problems Caused by PPI Be Addressed?
It is important for both the physicians and the public in general to understand that for a few days after stopping the PPI treatment it is common for the acid reflux problem to be extremely severe. This is caused due to increased acid rebound hypersecretion that takes place for a few days after withdrawing from the PPI. This knowledge would help people in withdrawing from PPIs from resorting to its long term usage.
Over-prescription of PPIs should be stopped as it can lead to future (and even worse) acid reflux problems.
It is imperative at times to resort to drugs in order to treat heartburn and acid reflux. However, drugs should be the last resort for treating these problems and should be taken only if the problem is extremely severe. Eating a healthier diet with fewer amounts of acid-producing foods can help in greatly in reducing heartburn. Regular exercise and eating meals at certain times of the day are other ways of treating these digestive problems naturally and effectively. Also, supplementing with digestive enzymes can also be effective in addressing heartburn, acid reflux, and a number of other digestive maladies.
Above all, it’s important to make sure that your doctor or healthcare provider is making a comprehensive assessment of your heartburn symptoms before prescribing something that may make the problem even worse!