Heart & Soul (Stomach)
Feeling a bit of heartburn? Too much of a good thing last night? What about that chocolate after some pizza & pop?
Just pop an antacid and move on. Pop several, right?
A variety of medications are used to treat acid problems in the stomach:
- Neutralizers (Tums, Rolaids, etc.)
- H2 Blockers – cimetidine, famotidine (Pepcid)
- Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) – omeprazole, pantoprazole (Protonix)
My purpose is not to give you a pharmacology post on drugs, but to point out some facts you must know to protect your health.
The Facts About Antacids
PPIs have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease (think blocked arteries = heart attack)
PPIs cause micronutrient deficiency. Most of us eat a diet that is already lacking in key nutrients. These drugs block absorption of important nutrients and also alter the health bacteria in our guts. Remember that 70-80% of our immune system lives in the gut. This can’t be good – agree?
Long-term use of PPIs decreases absorption of calcium, vitamin B12, iron, and magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is already an issue for many, and low magnesium can result in heart palpitations. As an ER physician, I’ve seen many of these patients in a state of panic and discomfort.
Bones are living tissue and constantly undergo remodeling and rebuilding. Several studies have linked treatment with PPI use with causing bone fractures. Anyone interested in having a hip or spine fracture? The data link is below.
What To Do
Instead of resigning to taking a prescription acid-reducing medication for eternity, take an honest at why you need it.
- Is it diet related?
- Triggered by eating after a specific time
- Associated with alcohol or caffeine intake
- Has H. pylori been tested and/or treated
- Could something more serious be causing it
Relying on these drugs without a search for the underlying cause puts people at risk. Long-term acid reflux can change the lining of the esophagus and result in esophageal cancer. A horrible diagnosis to say the least.
Ask your doctor if a look down the throat is a good idea. This is a simple procedure and done with sedation, so it is painless. I’ve had one done before and had no troubles.
Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) is a procedure that helps the physician diagnose and treat problems in the upper gastrointestinal tract. The doctor uses a long, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope and inserts it down the throat to look at the esophagus and stomach.