Many acid reflux heartburn suffers make it through life on one antacid pill after another assuming that heartburn and ant-acid medications are safe to use indefinitely. Sadly this may not be the case. Lifestyle changes probably are the most effective means of curing most acid reflux heartburn disorders. However we live in the take a pill and forget it society that does not consider the consequences of long-term ant-acid heartburn medication.
Almost all antacid medications consist of either aluminum hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide, sodium bicarbonate or some combination of these chemical compounds to neutralize the acid in your stomach. The downside of neutralizing stomach acid is that your stomach can no longer efficiently digest your food. It also causes problems for the good bacteria that live in your digestive track. When your stomach senses that acid levels are being reduced it automatically makes more hydrochloric acid. This of course causes acid reflux heartburn symptoms to increase. This cycling is hard on your digestive system and makes your life miserable.
Anytime you take any kind of medication you leave yourself open to side effects. This can be minor or in some extreme cases life threatening. Many people do not know that some antacid leave you more vulnerable to food poisoning. The use of antacids affects the levels of good bacteria that normally protect the body from bacterial invasions. Certain enzyme secretions necessary for proper digestion are also affected by the use of antacids. They can also interfere with the absorption of vitamins, micronutrients and calcium compounds.
A very serious consideration that is largely overlooked by antacid users is the adverse reaction with other medicine that the acid reflux heartburn suffer is also taking. These include blood thinners, corticosteroids, diabetic medications, antibiotics, heart medicine, anti-anxiety medications and simple anti-inflammatories. Since you can buy most antacids over the counter most people never bother to consult their physician before taking them. This practice can lead to tragic consequences.
The most commonly prescribed acid reflux heartburn medicines including Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid are only intended to be used for short periods. However, most people are using them for months at a time. The drug manufactures never conduct tests to determine the long-term side affects of these drugs. It is well known within the medical community that taking these medications increases your risk of contracting pneumonia. It is understood that taking these medications reduces stomach acid and beneficial bacteria that kill the harmful bacteria.
The new H2-recptor blockers like Tagamet greatly reduce the production of hydrochloric acid. Side affects include the poor absorption of key vitamins and enzymes. Long-term effects of this new class of drugs in largely unknown. Proton pump inhibitors or (PPI’s) also work by shutting down the production of hydrochloric acid. They are very powerful with the ability to completely turn off all stomach acid production. As with the H2-receptor blockers no long-term studies have been conducted to fully understand the long-term use of these drugs.
Ingesting any drug into your body causes a reaction to occur. Many of the reactions are mild but some are of a serious nature. The alternative to using medications to reduce your acid reflux heartburn symptoms is basic and safe. Unless you have a serious digestive problem like GERD or cancer, in which you should be under the care of a physician, the most effective way of solving your heartburn problems is through a change in lifestyle. By that we mean reducing your food intake, stopping smoking, cutting back on alcohol use. Eating smaller meals several times a day, avoiding spicy foods or foods with high acid content like citrus and beginning a regular routine of exercise.
Once you have made the decision to change your lifestyle, the hardest part is taking the first steps. If you need help then enlist family members and friends to keep you focused. It just takes one small step at a time but you can do it if you keep focused on the goal to be acid reflux heartburn free.