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Can taking medication for acid reflux/GERD weaken my bones?

Armen Hareyan's picture
Your Nutrition Solution to Acid Reflux

The majority of people who suffer with acid reflux and/or GERD tend to pop a pill instead of getting to the root of their problem. In most cases there is a food(s) and/or other health issue that is causing the heartburn/acid reflux and if that problem is rectified or that food is avoided acid reflux will most likely cease.

However, it is too easy these days to just take an over-the-counter medication or one that is prescribed by your doctor to get rid of your heartburn symptoms. The problem is that these medications will only relieve and mask your symptoms on a temporary basis. Once the medication is stopped symptoms will most likely return if the root of the problem has not been found and rectified.

This creates a vicious cycle that manifests into taking medications to treat your acid reflux on a constant and long-term basis. Medications for GERD are not intended to be used long-term. They are only meant to be used for shorter periods of time while the esophagus and other effected areas heal themselves.

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In 2010 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that taking high doses of one type of acid reflux medication called, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), for long periods of time could make fractures of the hip, wrist and spine more likely. The labels on these medications now note that risk. PPI’s include familiar names such as omeprazole (Prilosec®), lansoprazole (Prevacid®), rabeprazole (AcipHex®), pantoprazole (Protonix®), esomeprazole (Nexium®) and dexlansorprazole (Dexilant®).

Another type of PPI consists of a combination of omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate (Zegerid®). PPI’s as well as some other medications used for acid reflux can actually inhibit the absorption of calcium in the body, resulting in weakening of bones over time. This is just another vital reason to control your acid reflux/GERD with diet and lifestyle changes and to use medication as a last resort and/or temporary solution only.

Most medications for acid reflux, whether they are a PPI or other type of medication such as H2 blockers or antacids, will have some type of effect when taken long-term, including weakening of bones. For women, and even some men, who may already be suffering from osteoporosis, a condition that weakens the bones in older age, this can be a double whammy.

Medication alone is never suggested for acid reflux. It is important to visit your doctor and be properly diagnosed before taking any medication whether over-the-counter or prescription. Keep in mind that more is not always better. If you find yourself eating TUMS like candy it is time to see your doctor and get to the root of your problem!

Written by Kimberly A. Tessmer, RDN, LD
Author: Your Nutrition Solution to Acid Reflux (May 2014, New Page Books)



The quote below was copied verbatim from the above article. "It is important to visit your doctor and be properly diagnosed before taking any medication whether over-the-counter or prescription". Why would I expect my doctor to provide a solution when the doctor was the person that prescribed the medication that you say I should avoid? How about writing an informative article about this topic, rather than just warning us. What is the solution?
I never said you should avoid medication. The key is to get to the bottom of what is causing the acid reflux in the first place instead of simply covering up the symptoms with medications. Once the root problem is found medication is sometimes needed but should only be taken on a short term basis. I said what I did because some symptoms of acid reflux can mimic other health issues so do not want people assuming they have acid reflux and to start taking medication. It is also not a good idea to continually take OTC meds if you think you have acid reflux because they can long-term effects. If you feel your doctor is not providing you a solution and an answer to your problem you should either see a specialist or another doctor. The solution is in my BOOK! If you want a nutritional solution to acid reflux the idea is to read my book to find that out. Not something you can fit into one article. Thank you for your feedback
hi can you give me any suggestions? ive suffered acid reflux for years now i think about 5 but im not certain and its only getting worse. i was on a medicine i think metoclopramide im not sure on the spelling but this then caused me to suffer really bad shakes and tremors so i was taken off them a few months ago and im now on quetiapine 150mg and ranitidine 150mg but im still getting heartburn regular and im still suffering the shakes and occational tremors. ive tried so many things i cant remember them all but im on a diet and losing weight ive lost 1 stone and im now classed as just over weight but the symptoms aint getting any better so i dont think my weights causing it. any advice would be greatly appreciated as i often get the heartburn so bad i wake up in the night rush to the toilet and puke acid with no taste and that burns my throat so bad i cant speak for 2 or 3 days and when i do it really hurts it feels like ive swallowed broken glass.
Hi David, I would continue to work with your doctor as it sounds like your heartburn is far from being controlled. I would suggest, if you are not already, working with a specialist and not just your general physician. Be sure you are working with a gastroenterologist! Not sure if you have been through any testing but hopefully they are being thorough with trying to figure out the problem and cause. I definitely recommend reading my book and taking a look at your diet. You may need to follow my suggestion in the book on keeping a food diary and trying to pinpoint your problem foods! Good luck! Kimberly A. Tessmer, RDN, LD
Hi, I have been having pain swallowing food and was diagonised with hiatus hernia after the doctor did a endoscopy 4 years ago. I was put on acid brokers, pantocid and moza-5 which i have been taking since then. Now i have developed another problem of sores on gum and mouth and a persistent cough. Kindly advice
Hi Pamela: I would advise you speak with your doctor about your cough. If you have sores on your gum and mouth, a dental visit would be prudent. Best to you.