Many people use heartburn medication on a daily basis without thinking about it. Consumers assume that since medications like Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium are sold over-the-counter, they are safe to take. While these medications, as well as their prescription counterparts, do an important job, they shouldn’t be taken for longer than instructed. In many cases, that means a maximum of 14 days. Otherwise, complications can arise, leading to even worse health challenges.

Research Has Confirmed Links

According to a number of independent researchers, heartburn drugs, also known as Proton Pump Inhibitors, or PPIs, lead to an increased risk of strokes, heart disease, kidney disease, and even stomach cancers when they are taken incorrectly. Dementia and pneumonia are two additional conditions that can arise. Even the prescription versions of these drugs, which don’t come with the 14-day warning, can lead to the same serious conditions. The research showed that regularly taking a PPI raises the risks of these complications by 17%. 

Designed to Reduce Stomach Acid

Approximately 15 million people in the United States are prescribed a PPI or other heartburn drug. This number does not take into account those who purchase the medication over-the-counter, which likely means millions and millions more.. The medications are designed to lower the amount of stomach acid produced by the body, thus eliminating or greatly decreasing the occurrence of heartburn and acid reflux. While they work, there might be better options out there, especially for those who only have occasional acid reflux or heartburn issues.

Not Everyone Should Take These Drugs

As a whole, PPIs are overprescribed. Doctors are quick to prescribe them to their patients because they do work, and the number of side effects was previously reported to be small. Patients might have been better off with a less-serious medication like Tums or Pepto Bismol, both of which can eliminate an occasional acid reflux flare-up.

Now that the complications of these PPIs are well established, they may be prescribed less frequently and people will not reach for their non-prescription counterparts, or at least take them according to the instructions. For others who have been on these drugs for years, it is advisable to stop if at all possible.

If you suspect that your use of heartburn medications has led to other issues, please contact me today, and I’ll Make Them Pay!®

Drug Injuries