Heartburn is a common affliction. It causes a burning sensation in the throat and can leave a bitter taste in the mouth. Often it occurs simply because you’ve eaten a big meal. Its medical name is esophageal reflux. Many sufferers are prescribed medication to treat the condition and help alleviate symptoms. But now, a new study warns against using drugs like Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid.
The study, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researched the medical records of more than 145,000 patients in England.
It was found that those who took “proton pump inhibitors” for a year or longer had a 44 percent higher risk of experiencing hip fractures than those who did not use one of these drugs. And, not surprisingly, the higher the dose of PPI’s, the higher the risk of developing a hip fracture.
The researchers suggested that the proton pump inhibitors may decrease acid content in the stomach, causing the body to lose some of its ability to absorb calcium. Once calcium isn’t getting absorbed into your bones and teeth, they become weaker.
The study also noted one additional finding: another class of drugs used to treat heartburn – called H2 blockers – can also pose a risk, albeit a smaller one, of increased hip fractures.
Is there a way to treat heartburn without using proton pump inhibitors like Nexium, Prilosec, or Prevacid?
Heartburn can be treated through diet. It is recommended, as a first step, that you try to eat three or four small meals throughout the day. Heartburn can also be caused by a weak sphincter. By making sure that the stomach never gets too full, you can keep digested food away from the “open” sphincter.
Try not to eat before you go to bed. Lying down or bending over often aggravates the symptoms of heartburn. Give yourself two hours of digestion time before turning in for the night.
You can also try avoiding foods and drinks that increase the production of stomach acid. Tomatoes and tomato products like spaghetti sauce, citrus foods, coffee, cola drinks, alcohol, onions, chocolate, and spicy meals can all cause problems.
Greasy fried foods, high in fat, can slow down the process of emptying the stomach. The longer the food takes to digest, the more stomach acid is produced, and you increase your chances of suffering from heartburn.
Peppermint and spearmint, though often used to settle the stomach, can actually relax the sphincter and again, increase your risk for heartburn.
Loosen your belt if you can before eating a meal — a tight waistband can make your heartburn worse.
And if you’re carrying extra pounds, be aware that excess fat can press on your stomach and push its contents up into the esophagus.
Finally, if you smoke, here’s another reason to quit: Nicotine can increase the release of stomach acid which allows the sphincter to open more easily, causing heartburn.