Don't Over Treat Your Heartburn Warns Consumer Reports
Are you over-treating your heartburn? You just might be warns the April issue of Consumer Reports on Health as it offers the following warning and advice on how you should treat heartburn that may require only a mild anti-acid that will not only help save you money, but help you avoid some health risks from taking medications that are stronger than you need.
According to the April issue of Consumer Reports on Health, the acid-reflux disease prescription medication Nexium is the top-selling medication for treating gastric distress that has earned billions of dollars in sales. However, a Best Buy Drugs analysis by researchers at Consumer Reports on Health has found that other drugs are available that work just as well and cost less. The trick, they reveal, is knowing how to properly treat―rather than over treat―your heartburn with the 5 following tips:
Heartburn Tip #1: Get the correct drug
According to heartburn medication analysis performed by researchers at Consumer Reports on Health, up to 70 percent of the patients given a prescription for proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Nexium or Prilosec may be overmedicating themselves. What few realize is that PPIs are not meant to treat common occasional heartburn; but rather, gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD for cases of heartburn that exceed two or more episodes per week for months at a time.
For milder cases of heartburn, Consumer Reports on Health recommends that patients try faster-acting antacids like Malox, Mylanta, Rolaids or Tums before going for prescription strength PPIs. Furthermore, patients may also benefit from taking over-the-counter H2 blocker meds such as Pepcid AC or Zantac 75 as they have fewer side effects and are significantly cheaper than PPIs.
Heartburn Tip #2: Know the Risks
Another reason for avoiding PPIs when an antacid will work as well, is that PPIs are linked to pneumonia, bone fractures, vitamin B12 deficiency and infection with the bacterium C. difficile― a long-lasting, toxic and sometimes fatal bacterium.
Heartburn Tip #3: Ease off the drugs gradually
As it turns out, going off strong prescription heartburn meds typically has to be done gradually. What happens is that because the meds are designed to reduce stomach acid, a rebound reaction of excessive stomach acid production can occur if you decide to go cold turkey and stop taking the heartburn meds all at once.
Consumer Reports on Health recommends that patients talk to their doctor first before discontinuing a prescribed heartburn medication or OTC H2 blocker and see whether they may need to taper off their medication by taking one pill every other day and then followed by every few days.
Heartburn Tip #4: Check for other diseases
Consumer Reports on Health warns that self-medicating with OTC drugs runs the risk of masking underlying conditions such as esophageal cancer, heart disease and gallstones. Their recommendation is for patients to check with their doctor first before starting to take any heartburn medications.
Heartburn Tip #5: Make lifestyle changes to treat your heartburn
Simple lifestyle changes can make a difference when dealing with heartburn. Some recommendations include:
• Raising the head of your bed 6-8 inches to prevent acid reflux while sleeping.
• Lose some belly fat that causes stomach contents to be pushed back up the esophagus.
• Avoid large, fatty meals and don’t eat 2-3 hours before going to bed.
• Make note of which foods tend to cause heartburn and then avoid them.
For saving money, OTC drugs for treating heartburn can cost up to 16 times less per month (a savings of $200 or more per month) than some of the more popular heartburn prescription meds. For a complete breakdown of cost comparisons, go to the April issue of Consumer Reports on Health or the website CRBestBuyDrugs.org.
For an informative article on treating heartburn by Dr. Oz, click-on the titled link, “Purple Pill Hazards That You Need to Know About, Discussed at Dr. Oz.”
Image source: Courtesy of Wikipedia
Reference: Consumer Reports on Health April 2014 issue