side effects of reflux medication.

Most over the counter drugs and prescription reflux medications have side effects. Talking with your doctor about the effects and finding a way to deal with them is the best solution. If you're experiencing extreme symptoms, don't feel as if you are defeated. There are other options for treating reflux like lifestyle changes and non-invasive surgery. 

Common Over the Counter Antacids

There are over 100 different over the counter antacids for heartburn and reflux. Sodium bicarbonate antacids like Alka Seltzer contain baking soda and aspirin. If you have high blood pressure or are on a low sodium diet, avoid these medicines. Calcium carbonate medications like Tums and Alka Mints often cause constipation. Aluminum based drugs can cause constipation, calcium loss, and kidney problems in some patients. Magnesium based antacids, such as Milk of Magnesia, may cause diarrhea. However, combinations of aluminum and magnesium based antacids are less likely to cause constipation or diarrhea.

H2 Blockers

The most common over the counter acid reflux medications and prescriptions that decrease the amount of acid produced by the stomach are called H2 blockers. They are Zantac, Pepcid, Tagamet, and Axid. They have been in use since the 1960’s and have minor side effects. Some of the side effects are nausea, headaches, constipation, dizziness, and diarrhea. Although they often help with side effects, they do not cure GERD symptoms.

Proton Pump Inhibitors

Proton Pump Inhibitors come in over the counter and prescription form and reduce stomach acid produced in the stomach. Long term use has been found to cause bone loss and lead to breaks and fractures in the elderly. In some patients they lead to loss of vitamin B-12 and iron. Another side effect to be cautious of is an increased the risk of infections. Doctors strongly advise taking calcium supplements and eating a diet rich in iron and Vitamin B-12 if using proton pump inhibitors.

Common prescription drugs are Nexium, Dexilant, Prilosec, Zegerid, and Vivimo. Over the counter proton pump inhibitors are Prilosec, Zegerid and Prevacid. It is advised not to stay on these medications for extended periods of time. However, this should be discussed with your doctor. Some doctor recommend taking a minimum dose until more research studies are completed. However, proton pump inhibitors are considered one of the more successful GERD medications.

Lifestyle Changes and Natural Remedies for Reflux

As with most health related issues, your life style plays a significant role in your health. There are various ways to cut out unhealthy habits and incorporate healthier alternatives. You'll most likely see a difference in your symptoms if you follow these natural remedies for acid reflux.

  • If you are currently overweight, focus on reaching your healthy body weight. Excessive weight often puts pressure on the stomach causing acid to back up in the esophagus. 
  • Avoid acidic foods that causes heartburn such as tomatoes, spicy foods, anything fried, caffeine, fatty foods and too much alcohol. 
  • Eat smaller meals and don’t lie down after a meal for several hours. 
  • If you're a smoker, kick the unhealthy habit asap.  

Most reflux medication and GERD medications work well but have some side effects. Discussing the problem with your doctor is the best solution for this problem. Often dealing with side effects means changing your diet, taking supplements, or finding different medications that works for you. Everyone is different, so it make take a little time to find what works best for you, but don't give up.

By Joan Russell

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