Are Over The Counter Heartburn Medications Safe
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, more than 60 million Americans get heartburn at least once a month and 15 million of these people have symptoms every day. Given these numbers, its no wonder that there are so many over-the-counter heartburn medications out there. These remedies can provide relief without needing to see a doctor or get a prescription, but are over the counter heartburn medications safe?
Reduce Hiatal Hernia If It Is Present
A hiatal hernia forms inside the diaphragm, the muscular area between the chest and the lower abdomen. It can result in bulging inside the stomach and interfere with stomach acid and digestion. One of the main symptoms of hiatal hernia, so if you have hiatal hernia, it is important to reduce it to improve your stomach acid levels and heartburn.
Natural options for hiatal hernia include a warm water fix, self-massage, yoga, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, chamomile, baking soda, aloe vera, slippery elm, an anti-inflammatory diet, fermented foods, and digestive enzymes, such as Super D-Zyme. To learn more about hiatal hernia, I recommend reading this article.
What Are The Long
Long-term acid reflux may lead to GERD, which is a more chronic form of acid reflux. Over time, this can damage the esophagus, leading to a condition known as Barrettâs esophagus, which is typically a precursor to esophageal cancer. On average, less than 10% of GERD patients have some form of esophageal cancer.
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Try Out Tagamet For Longer Term Relief
Another option for longer term relief is a medication called Tagamet. This works in the same way as Zantac 75 and Pepcid, by blocking some acid production but mostly neutralizing the acid that is in the stomach. It is a longer term relief than the likes of TUMS and Maalox.
The benefit is that Tagamet as a category B rating. This is important for doctors as it means that it hasnt shown any signs of causing an unborn baby problems. It is more favorable than Prilosec, which has a category C rating.
What Can Trigger Heartburn
Certain foods and beverages can trigger heartburn in individuals. These include but are not limited to spicy foods, onions, citrus products, chocolate, peppermint, alcohol, and fried foods. Additionally, individuals who are pregnant or overweight may also have a higher risk of experiencing heartburn.
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How Do Proton Pump Inhibitors Work
Proton pump inhibitors, which may also be called “PPIs,” are also reduce the amount of acid found in your stomach. However, instead of acting on histamine 2 receptors, these medications shut down the pumps responsible for the production and secretion of acid into the stomach. Unlike antacids and H2 blockers, PPIs are not fast-acting. In fact, they can take one to four days to feel the full effects of a PPI. Once they do take effect, PPIs are long lasting, providing relief from heartburn for 24 hours. PPIs are intended to be used only by those experiencing frequent heartburn . They have a strict dosing regimen and must be taken every day in order to be effective at treating frequent heartburn.
You should only take over-the-counter PPIs for 14 days at a time. After taking this medication for 14 days, you should wait four months before taking an over-the-counter PPI again7.
When Should You Consider A Ppi
Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms such as trouble swallowing, weight loss, or chest pain. Call the doctor if you dont get better in about two weeks. The doctor will look for signs of problems such as GERD .
If you have GERD, you probably need a PPI. Talk to your doctor if:
- You have heartburn at least twice a week for several weeks.
- Food or acid often come back up into your throat.
- You take antacid or H2 blockers, and you make changes like the ones described on this page, but your heartburn does not go away.
If your doctor thinks you need a PPI:
- Ask to start with a low dose of generic prescription lansoprazole or omeprazole. You can also get these medicines over the counter.
- If the heartburn gets better after a few weeks, talk to your doctor about gradually lowering your dose.
This report is for you to use when talking with your healthcare provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.
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Absolute Risk For Serious Side Effects Is Low
For many other serious side effects associated with PPIs, the absolute risk is low and the evidence isnt definitive, says Dhyanesh Patel, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the Center for Swallowing and Esophageal Disorders at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
One study examining the link between PPIs and kidney disease found the drugs associated with up to a 0.3 percent greater risk of kidney disease per patient for each year on the drugs.
Another study found the medicines associated with up to a 1.5 percent greater risk of dementia per elderly patient per year.
And, each year on PPIs was associated with up to a 0.5 percent higher risk of hip fractures for older adults taking the drugs in a different observational study.
These links and connections to several other side effects arent strong enough at this point for patients to steer clear of PPIs just because they have other risk factors, several doctors said.
Elderly patients, for example, might be more prone to side effects associated with PPIs because of multiple chronic health problems that are unrelated to the PPIs and might be tied to their use of other medication, Dr. Patel says.
PPI therapy might be entirely appropriate, but yet may be blamed for any subsequent adverse event, Patel says.
Soothe Indigestion And Bloating With Over
Sarah is a freelance writer with a focus on health and wellness. She has written for publications like Women’s Health, Healthline, and Parents. She taught creative writing for five years, and has a bachelor’s degree in English from Southern Connecticut State University.
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When heartburn or acid indigestion strikes, you need something that settles your stomach ASAP. Its no fun to walk around feeling like you have your own personal fire-breathing dragon raging in your esophagus, and its even less fun to battle the burn while trying to work, exercise, drive through rush hour traffic, or sleep.
If youre prone to bouts of GI distress, its smart to have a reliable over-the-counter antacid on hand that can provide quick relief. Why? Because these medications can decrease the amount of stomach acid you produce, says University of Missouri Health Care gastroenterologist Yezaz Ghouri, MD.
The stomach normally produces hydrochloric acid to help digest food and kill bacteria or other organisms that may have been ingested along with the food, Dr. Ghouri explains. When there is an overproduction of the acid, it can lead to stomach discomfort.
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Mylicon: Best Heartburn Medication For Children
Unlike the other medications, mylicon is actually an anti-foaming agent that can act as an antacid for children ages 2-11. Mylicon has an active ingredient, Simethicone, that gently breaks up gas bubbles in the stomach. Additionally, it contains Calcium Carbonate, which is an antacid.
Mylicon was specifically designed to soothe discomfort from gas, acid, indigestion, overeating, and bloating. It is a fast-acting medication you can pick up OTC and typically costs only $11 for 15 milliliters. For most children, Mylicon starts working in just minutes following consumption.
The only potential side effect of Mylicon is loose stools. However, only use Mylicon for your child as directed and no more than 12 times per day. See below for the suggested doses of Mylicon to give your child.
Which Diet And Lifestyle Changes Relieve Heartburn During Pregnancy
The management of heartburn during pregnancy involves many of the same principles as management in the non-pregnant state. Lifestyle changes may include:
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Heartburn Is A Symptom Of Low Stomach Acid
What most people dont realize is that heartburn is a symptom of poor stomach acid production and not too much stomach acid production. At rest, our stomach acid environment is at a 3-3.5 pH level. For contrast a neutral pH is 7.0.
In order to effectively digest a protein rich meal, we need to get our stomach acid environment down to 1.5-2.2. This is very energy demanding and due to a variety of factors, many people struggle to produce enough acid.
When we dont produce enough acid, food sits in our stomach longer and begins to ferment and create gas and pressure that opens up the lower esophageal sphincter. The acid that is in the stomach now regurgitates up into the esophagus where the tissue is not protected from the acid and it creates a burning sensation and overtime creates significant damage to the esophagus.
So it is important to know, that suppressing stomach acid further with heartburn medications may relieve the symptoms but it only further worsens your digestive health and ability to protect your body from pathogens and absorb essential nutrients.
List Of Prescription Drugs Used For Heartburn Treatment
Heartburn is a painful burning sensation experienced in the upper stomach or chest area due to the reflux of stomach acid in the esophagus.
The reflux is triggered usually by poor diet and lifestyle which causes the lower oesophageal sphincter to relax and give way to flow the acid backward.
Though heartburn is a relatively common disorder and can be treated with simpler drugs, its negligence can lead to the development of a more severe and chronic condition called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease .
Infections Are Clearest Risk
The clearest exception may be infections, which have been consistently linked to PPIs in several large, observational studies over the years.
One three-year study, published in May 2019 in the journal Gastroenterology, randomly assigned more than 17,000 patients to take a PPI or placebo in combination with blood-thinners, and found PPI users were 33 percent more likely to develop enteric infections. These infections develop in the small intestine and are caused by a type of bacteria known as campylobacter. Enteric infections are a leading cause of diarrhea.
More than 900 people would need to take PPIs for over a year for one patient to develop an enteric infection that wouldnt have otherwise occurred, says Paul Moayyedi, PhD, lead author of the study and assistant dean of research at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Patients on PPIs in this study were also more than twice as likely to develop Clostridium difficile infections, but there were only 13 cases and this made it impossible to rule out the possibility that the connection might be due to chance.
Of all the potential safety concerns with PPIs, the risk of infections is one that doctors most consistently say changes how they prescribe the drugs.
Path To Improved Health
To find out which medicine is right for you, talk to your family doctor. He or she can tell you about the benefits and risks. Antacids and acid reducers rarely cause side effects. If they do, the side effects usually are minor and go away on their own. These may include headaches, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea.
Talk to your doctor before taking antacids if you have kidney disease. You should avoid any antacid that contains calcium carbonate or aluminum hydroxide and magnesium carbonate unless your doctor recommends it.
Talk to your doctor before taking a proton pump inhibitor if:
- You are elderly or have immune system problems. PPIs can increase your risk for pneumonia.
- You are a postmenopausal woman. PPIs reduce calcium absorption and increase your risk for osteoporosis.
- You have been treated for a Clostridium difficile infection in the past. PPIs may increase the risk that your infection returns.
If you are over the age of 55 and require long-term PPI treatment, your doctor may refer you for an EGD . This procedure examines the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and upper small intestine. If you have significant reflux, your doctor also may test you for the bacteria H. pylori prior to trying you on PPIs.
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What Is Heartburn And How Can Ppis Help
Heartburn happens to lots of us when we have an especially spicy, fatty, or heavy meal. It develops when stomach acid flows up into the esophagus, or food pipe, causing a burning sensation in the chest, often accompanied by a bitter or sour taste in the mouth and throat. Symptoms are especially common among the elderly, pregnant women, smokers, and people who are overweight or obese.
More than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, and more than 15 million people suffer daily symptoms, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.
Sometimes heartburn eases with lifestyle changes, like eating smaller meals and eating more slowly. Avoiding tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine can also help.
Thats where PPIs come in. Sold under brand names like Prilosec and Nexium , PPIs work by curbing production of stomach acid. Doctors prescribe these drugs to treat GERD, a condition that develops when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. PPIs also treat Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that can cause ulcers in the stomach and small intestine. And, the drugs can also halt the production of stomach acid that causes ulcers with long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , like aspirin and ibuprofen .
Types Of Prescription Drugs Used For Heartburn Treatment
There are a number of drugs prescribed by the doctors to treat heartburn. The chemical composition for them is generally common in most of them, what differs is their label which is different according to the brand.
Most common prescription drugs fall into two types namely histamine type 2 receptor blockers/antagonists, proton pump inhibitors and pro-motility agents.
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Famotidine: Most Effective Heartburn Medication
If youâre in search of a strong relief from heartburn that is relatively cost-effective, Famotidine may be the right option for you. Pepcid is an H2 blocker that works by lowering the levels of acid produced in the stomach. Through this, Pepcid is not only effective in relieving heartburn but also in treating acid reflux.
Pepcid is a viable option in treating heartburn, as it is relatively fast-acting and long-lasting. On average, after taking Pepcid, individuals report noticing relief of heartburn within an hour, and typically, the effects of famotidine last for 10 to 12 hours after an initial dose. Pepcid is also a medication that can be purchased OTC or as a prescription. This unique flexibility of Pepcid allows it to be relatively accessible for all patients while also being capable of coming in higher doses for those who need more intense care. For an OTC pack of Pepcid, the average cost is typically under $10.
Famotidine is best taken with a glass of water. Additionally, it can be taken with or without food. The most common side effects of famotidine include a headache or gastrointestinal pain .
Heartburn Meds And Poor Protein Digestion
One of the main roles of stomach acid is to help proper protein digestions. When proteins are broken down into small enough particles, your immune system cannot mistake them for invaders or pathogens and they can go through the digestion process and healing. However, when heartburn medication reduces stomach acid levels in your body, they can interfere with normal protein digestion.
If proteins or other food particles are not broken down properly, your body may mistake them for pathogens leading to digestion and immune system havoc, as well as inflammation. Poor protein digestion can result in altered metabolism, lowered immune health, and poor tissue healing and recovery .
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