Don’t get burned: why long-term antacid use isn’t a good option to treat digestive troubles
Do you suffer from occasional heartburn, or have a problem with more serious recurring acid reflux? Or, do you have other digestive issues? If you do, and you’re treating any of the above with over the counter antacids, you may be setting yourself up to ‘get burned’ by side effects and the results of masking underlying health issues.
Pain is our body’s way of telling us there’s a problem. In all cases, it pays to notice the signs, symptoms and signals our body is giving us. Over-the-counter antacids aren’t a good solution for solving acid reflux and other digestive issues, because use can mask symptoms that tell us we need to make lifestyle changes and resolve underlying health problems.
Here are some of the known causes of acid reflux:
- Taking OTC medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, certain blood pressure medications, or blood thinners
- Hiatal hernia
- Eating foods that don’t agree with your body (Some people will experience acid reflux after eating tomatoes, chocolate, spicy or fatty foods, as well as onions and garlic)
In each of these cases, our body is trying to tell us something when we experience acid reflux. Maybe we need to change our diet, and remove foods that the body can’t tolerate. Or, maybe we need to lose weight and make healthier lifestyle choices. Perhaps we need to stop taking medications with side effects that tell us the body is experiencing stress caused by a treatment that’s making the condition worse, and not better. Or, in the worst case, we may have an underlying condition such as hernia that needs treatment and attention.
In all cases, it’s best to look at lifestyle to find the most natural, least invasive way to help the body to heal itself. For that reason, your wellness depends on your willingness to pay attention to your symptoms and find a holistic solution.
Additionally, the risks associated with taking antacids go beyond masking symptoms. The antacids can have side effects that can lead to other health problems. How? Antacids generally work in one of a few ways. You can find antacids that are “proton pump inhibitors,” or PPIs, that lower the amount of acid in the stomach; and there are H2 blockers that work by blocking acid production. Both types come with the risk of side effects.
H2 blockers are known to cause headaches, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. PPIs are known to have similar side effects, plus they interact negatively with other medications. Used long term, these medications have also been linked to memory loss, bone fractures, pneumonia, and heart and kidney problems.
Why? Because tampering with acid production in the stomach and the proper functioning of the digestive system can lead to problems absorbing nutrients from food, and overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal system (or gut). This can start a cycle of illness that prevents healing, poisons the body as the gut ‘leaks’ poisons into the system, and reduces resistance to other illness and infections.
That’s why we don’t recommend that people use antacids such as Nexium, Prilosec, Zantac and Pepcid to tread acid reflux long term. Many health and holistic practitioners are now sounding the alarm about the issues. And we’re not alone. Even the FDA is now issuing warnings about the problems of PPI use, especially on a long-term basis. They recommend limiting use to no more than six weeks. This is a major reversal, since antacids are one of the most popular drugs used by Americans. Doctors wrote 114 million prescriptions for them last year alone.
But why would you spend weeks taking a drug that could cause dementia and cancer, if you don’t have to? Instead, we recommend that you visit a holistic wellness provider. You need to tune in to the symptoms your body is sending, and look to see if you can find natural solutions.
Ready to learn more? We can provide more information on our website, and by speaking with one of our healthcare providers. We can counsel you on healthy eating and lifestyle choices, and use of targeted supplements such as PEA (palmitoylethanolamide) to treat inflammation in the body.
Whatever you do, please take a little time to review all of your options before making a final decision to treat acid reflux and digestive issues in the body, and the conditions they create. You can take control of your health by learning more, and finding natural ways to promote your health, healing and overall wellness. Don’t hesitate to visit our website to learn more, and reach out with any questions.