Alternatives to Over-the-Counter Medications for Acid Reflux
06. 15. 2017
It’s been 14 years since the Food and Drug Administration approved over-the-counter sales of Prilosec, the top selling anti-reflux medication at that time. Since then, PPIs have soared in popularity, becoming one of the highest selling drug classes in the United States and netting $14 billion in annual sales. There’s no question that anti-reflux medications work, but concerns over their long-term safety have become the subject of several recent studies.
One of the primary concerns with over-the-counter PPIs is that many patients take these medications well beyond the recommended 14-day course of treatment. These individuals may unknowingly be placing themselves at risk for serious health complications including kidney failure, heart attack, dementia, bone loss, and nutrient deficiency.
If you currently rely on over-the-counter medications to control your acid reflux symptoms, it’s important to know that you have options. There are several therapies that can reduce or eliminate your digestive issues without medications and long-term side effects.
- Lifestyle changes – Adopting healthy lifestyle habits can greatly reduce the occurrence of reflux. Do your best to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and practice portion control. Give up smoking, and limit your intake of alcohol which is a common heartburn trigger. Finish meals at least two to three hours prior to bedtime to avoid nighttime reflux symptoms.
- Diet modifications – Many instances of heartburn can be traced back to diet. Foods that are spicy, fried, high in fat, or highly acidic are known culprits for aggravating reflux. Do your best to avoid these foods, and take time to identify your personal heartburn triggers. Some of the most common trigger foods include onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, chocolate, and citrus.
- Natural remedies – Holistic treatments can sometimes offer the same relief as medications but without the unwanted side effects. Apple cider vinegar, aloe vera and ginger root are just a few natural therapies that are known for their digestive benefits.
- Surgery – If your doctor determines that you have severe acid reflux, you may be a candidate for antireflux surgery. Many of these procedures are available with minimally invasive technology, which means you will be on the fast track to recovery and a life without heartburn.
Medication is an effective option for controlling chronic heartburn, but it isn’t always the best one. Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or gastroenterologist to discuss the frequency and severity of your acid reflux symptoms. Together you can develop a comprehensive treatment plan that is both safe and effective.