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The most recent statistics shows that heartburn is one of the most common digestive disorders in the United States. Experts claim that we need to be very alert when it comes to treating this condition, since if we do not treat it, the acid reflux can cause irritation and damage to the esophagus, vocal cords, throat and lungs and lead to pneumonia, ulcers, and breathing problems.

Even worse, this condition can also quickly become untreatable and cause numerous difficulties in the everyday life of the people who suffer from it, including chest pain experienced after meals and throughout the night.

It is a sad fact that over fifteen million Americans currently rely on prescription heartburn drugs to manage their symptoms. The most commonly prescribed medication for this condition is the proton pump inhibitor, which is the most widely prescribed drug in the world at the moment.

The MILLION-DOLLAR question – how do heartburn medications work?

Let us begin with the fact that there are numerous different types of heartburn medications on the market today. Some of these medications, including tums and pesto-bismol are available over-the-counter. The rest of them, such as Prevacid, Prilosec, and Nexium, can only be bought through a prescription.

Heartburn is a condition that occurs when the stomach acid returns back into the tube that carries the food from your mouth to your stomach. The prescription proton pump inhibitors (or PPIs) lower the production of acid in the stomach, and thus, if some amount of the stomach juice does reach the esophagus, it is less irritating and more tolerable.

Here is a very important thing everyone should remember – these medications are not a quick fix, as they can have devastating side-effects. There have been numerous studies that have revealed that about seventy percent of the patients who take these medications do not actually need them.

Here is only a part of the risks related to this medication:

1. Kidneys Disease

A group of experts at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health has recently carried out a study and analyzed two sets of data representing over 250,000 people in an attempt to find a link between PPI use and kidney problems. They have discovered that the regular users of PPIs were 13 percent more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than acid reflux sufferers that do not take the medication. There have also been other studies that have revealed that PPI use makes patients more susceptible to chronic kidney disease by twenty to fifty percent. Heartburn has been shown to increase the risk of toxic overload, fluid retention, and damage of the central nervous system.

2. Heart Disease

The scientists from the Stanford University in California have carried out a study which revealed that people with gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) who took PPIs had an increased risk of heart attack by sixteen percent. These people have also been shown to be twice more likely to die from cardiovascular problems. Another study has shown that these medications can lead to cardiovascular diseases. According to the study results, the proton-pump inhibitors may not only reduce the stomach acid, but they may also affect the health of the blood vessels. This is due to the reduced levels of nitric oxide, a chemical produced to protect and relax the blood vessels. This causes an increased risk of heart attacks. Dr. John Cooke, chair of cardiovascular sciences at the Houston Methodist Research Institute warns that PPI users are 16-21 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack over a seventeen-year period compared to chronic acid reflux sufferers who have not been taking the medication.

3. Fracture Risk

Have you known that the FDA has issued warnings about the increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures linked to PPI use? Well, if one uses PPIs for a period of at least seven years, they have two times increased risk to suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture. There have also been other warnings issued by experts who claim that five years of regular use of PPIs is linked to an increased risk of hip fractures, as well as fractures of the wrists and the spine.

4. Nutrient Malabsorption

Our body needs the stomach acid in order to absorb nutrients, including vitamin B12 and magnesium. This is why PPIs can lead to nutritional deficiencies such as calcium and iron deficiency.

The use of these drugs can lead to:

– Arrhythmias

– Anemia

– Seizures

– Muscle spasms

– Nerve damage

– Dementia

– Psychiatric problems

NOTE: the acid reflux medications can cause the abovementioned problems within the first year of use already. Unluckily, supplements cannot fix these deficiencies as long as the medications are still being taken. Finally, PPIs have also been related to pneumonia and Clostridium difficile infection and the therapy that uses PPIs has been shown to lead to an increase in hospital mortality in nearly ninety percent of the patients.

How to Manage Acid Reflux

NOTE: the greatest part of the people who use PPIs do not even need then in the first place. The proper way of managing acid reflux includes change in the diet, quitting smoking and reducing the consumption of alcohol.

– Every person needs the stomach acid as it plays an important role in the process of breaking down food and absorbing nutrients, as well as when it comes to killing bacteria and microbes. Moreover, if one uses acid-suppressing drugs like proton pump inhibitors over a long period of time, they may disrupt these processes and become more susceptible to both infections and nutritional deficiencies, experts say.

– Instead of taking PPIs, you can fix your acid reflux by taking half a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water after each meal, even every two hours until the symptoms subside. Both the pancreas and the kidneys already produce sodium bicarbonate natural, so it will help you neutralize the excess acid without causing side effects.

– Have you known that heartburn can sometimes be a result of your body producing too little acid and therefore not being able to digest the food properly? As experts say, this is especially the case of people over the age of fifty. The reduced production of stomach acid is usually the result of a poor diet or candida overgrowth. In order to prevent symptoms of this kind, you should drink one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted in eight ounces of water before each meal.

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The most recent statistics shows that heartburn is one of the most common digestive disorders in the United States. Experts claim that we need to be very alert when it comes to treating this condition, since if we do not treat it, the acid reflux can cause irritation and...

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