How safe are acid reflux medications?

LOS ANGELES Pepcid, Prilosec, Nexium. These drugs are called proton pump inhibitors. They inhibit the production of acid in the stomach. Americans spend hundreds of millions of dollars on these medications because they want relief.

"Acid reflux is a very uncomfortable condition. They want the strongest medicine they can find and they want it now," said Dr. Rebecca Crane.

Internal Medicine expert Dr. Crane says due to obesity and poor lifestyle, acid reflux complaints are on the rise and many people see doctors specifically for medications.

This may explain why this drugs are popular, but Denmark researchers say the increase in chronic problems may be due to the drugs themselves.

They gave 120 healthy people who've never had acid reflux the generic form of Nexium. Researchers found 40 percent of the healthy volunteers developed acid reflux symptoms after stopping the drug.

Researchers believe ceasing the PPI's trigger a rebound effect that creates more acid.

Dr. Crane says she doubts that's the problem. She believes many people don't manage the condition appropriately and many continue with poor lifestyle habits.

"They're still overweight and they're still eating fatty foods," said Dr. Crane.

The best way to attack acid reflux is to first change your habits, if that doesn't work Dr. Crane says try histamine blockers such as Xantac, Pepcid or Tagament on an as needed basis. The third strategy would then be to try proton pump inhibitors.

Acid reflux drugs have outsold every other class of medication except cholesterol drugs and anti-psychotics.

  • Link: Medline Plus
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