Acid Reflux Treatment

Below, you will find information on acid reflux treatment options, including natural treatments, what you can expect from a doctor’s visit, and the pros and cons of prescription medication usage, including the long-term side effects that drug companies do not want you to know about.


Holistic Acid Reflux Treatment

The first line of defense in acid reflux treatment should be a holistic approach. I understand that the word “holistic” invokes a sense of skepticism in many people. This word has been perverted by new-age mumbo-jumbo and “snake oil salesmen” in an attempt to peddle unproven herbs and supplements at a premium price.

This is very unfortunate, as “holistic” simply means taking a full-body approach, and fixing all possible contributors to a given condition. When we look at a chronic problem like acid reflux through a holistic lens, there is a good chance we will find that lifestyle, a disease state, is the primary cause of acid reflux.

In the case of acid reflux treatment, we know the following factors can all contribute to reflux:

  • Eating very large meals.
  • Eating triggers foods. Every person has different trigger foods, but common foods that cause heartburn are tomato, peppermint, citrus, alcohol, coffee, tobacco and dairy.
  • Eating right before bed.
  • Wearing tight clothing.
  • Inadequate chewing.
  • Being overweight or obese.

To fix these problems, a holistic acid reflux treatment plan might look like:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
  • Keeping a “heartburn log”, where you note what you ate that day and if it gave you heartburn. Over just a few weeks’ time, you will be able to identify which foods routinely cause acid reflux. These are your “trigger foods”.
  • Avoid coffee, alcohol, and tobacco.
  • Avoid food 2 hours before bed.
  • Make sure your clothes fit appropriately.
  • Chew your food more thoroughly.
  • Start a weight loss program.

By following a holistic acid reflux treatment plan like the one above, the vast majority of people would experience permanent relief from acid reflux without needing to take a single pill. No expensive supplements or strategies are required, and these changes will also help you live a longer, healthier, happier life.


Prescription Acid Reflux Treatment

For some people, such as those with hiatal hernias, genetic predispositions, high stress lifestyles, or otherwise are unable to follow a holistic plan, prescription medication may be appropriate.

If you experience acid reflux twice a week or more with regularity, you will want to see your doctor for a consultation. Regular reflux is now frequently diagnosed as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). This is because of the relatively recent discovery that having regular bouts of acid reflux can lead to esophageal damage and cancer.

If deemed appropriate, your doctor may prescribe either a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) or an H-2 blocker. Both classes of medication work to reduce the production of stomach acid. PPIs are generally considered to be longer-lasting whereas H-2 blockers tend to act faster and have a shorter duration.

While brand names differ from country to country, in the United States and North America, the most popular H2-blockers are Zantac, Axid, Pepcid, and Tagamet. Proton-pump inhibitors which are popular used include Prilosec (generic: omeprazole which is available over-the-counter in the United States), Prevacid, Nexium, Aciphex, and Protonix.

Of these, omeprazole is the oldest and most-studied medication. However, all of these acid reflux treatment medications are relatively young, so research into their long-term effects is just beginning to come out.

Out of these recent studies, numerous side effects for long-term usage of proton-pump inhibitors has been identified. Proton-pump inhibitors have been linked to an increased risk of bone fracture by multiple studies (1,2). Additionally, researchers have demonstrated that PPIs can interfere with the absorption of Vitamin B12, iron, and magnesium (1,2,3). Furthermore, PPIs have been connected to increased rates of various infections (1,2), cancer (1,2,4), and birth defects (1). The old idiom holds true even for something as innocent as acid reflux treatment: no drug has a single effect on the body.

Despite all the press on PPIs, H-2 blockers have fared considerably well in tests on their long-term effects. The downside is that many patients and primary care physicians have reported that H-2 blockers are not effective at acid reflux treatment when used for the long term; they lose effectiveness over time (5).


Acid Reflux Treatment Conclusion

For the average person, lifestyle and dietary changes are appropriate heartburn remedies. If these are not effective or you experience acid reflux twice per week or more, consult with your primary care physician for medical advice.

References

1. Sheen E, Triadafilopoulos G. Adverse effects of long-term proton pump inhibitor therapy. Dig Dis Sci. 2011 Apr;56(4):931-50.

2. Chapman DB, Rees CJ, Lippert D, Sataloff RT, Wright SC Jr. Adverse effects of long-term proton pump inhibitor use: a review for the otolaryngologist. J Voice. 2011 Mar;25(2):236-40.

3. Ito T, Jensen RT. Association of long-term proton pump inhibitor therapy with bone fractures and effects on absorption of calcium, vitamin B12, iron, and magnesium. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2010 Dec;12(6):448-57.

4. Chubak J, Boudreau DM, Rulyak SJ, Mandelson MT. Colorectal cancer risk in relation to use of acid suppressive medications. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2009 Jul;18(7):540-4.

5. Kushner PR. Role of the primary care provider in the diagnosis and management of heartburn. Curr Med Res Opin. 2010 Apr;26(4):759-65.

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  2. Acid Reflux Disease
  3. Natural Cures for Acid Reflux
  4. Acid Reflux Pillows – Can A Bed Wedge Pillow Stop Heartburn?
  5. Heartburn and Raisins: Good Combination or Trouble for Acid Reflux?