In February of this year, I read an article in The New York Times that caused me to gasp out loud: “Heartburn Drugs Tied to Dementia Risk”. Oh my gosh, I have been taking Prilosec (omeprazole) for over ten years and believing that it is a very safe medication with very few complications! As you may know, my father suffered from dementia so the thought of it now being a complication was very scary. I stopped taking the Prilosec immediately. Oddly enough, I feel fine – no adverse symptoms!
Prilosec is a medication that fits in the class of drugs knows as Proton Pump Inhibitors. Other over-the-counter medications that fit into this category are Prevacid (lansoprazole) and Nexium (osomeprazole magnesium).
In the study, German researchers, using a database of drug prescriptions, studied Proton Pump inhibitor use in 73,679 men and women older than 75 who were free of dementia at the start of the study. They studied these people over about a five year period and found that about 29,000 developed Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. While these results are not yet conclusive, they are enough to make me re-evaluate my need for Prilosec.
Other potential complications of of proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec and Prevacid include the development of chronic kidney disease, bone fractures, the C-Diff (Clostridium difficile bacteria which causes extreme diarrhea and it difficult to cure) and low blood magnesium levels.
Also, the stomach needs acid in order to digest food. When there is not enough acid to digest it, food remains in the stomach, fermenting and causing more problems and more heartburn, a vicious cycle.
Given these complications, perhaps you might decide to choose other, non-drug, approaches to help with your heartburn symptoms.
Here are some suggestions:
- Avoid chocolate or foods high in fat (but we’ll talk more about this later).
- Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol.
- Don’t eat too close to bedtime.
- Raise the head of your bed.
- Use simple over-the-counter antacids.
- Lose some weight.
- Consider apple-cider-vinegar (with the mother in it because of the probiotics) – Add 2 tsp to ¼ cup of water and drink. Repeat every 5 minutes until heartburn subsides. One brand to consider is Braggs.
There will always be cases where you may still require a medication to help with your symptoms. Be sure to consult with your physician and don’t make any changes without his approval.
We’ll be discussing more natural approaches to healthcare as the year goes on. I’ve come to a point in my life where I want to concentrate on wellness, not illness, and I know that many of you feel the same way.
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