As Americans, we seem to feel it’s our God-given duty to take a pill to relieve any discomfort. And there are times when medication is necessary. But if you suffer regularly from heartburn, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ongoing treatment with medication is not without risks.
There are three categories of medications commonly used to treat GERD:
With nearly $14 billion in annual sales, they rank as the third highest-selling category of drugs in the U.S., but in most cases, these drugs are probably unnecessary, and can cause more problems than they cure.
In children, particularly, chronic treatment with drugs can be problematic. The long-term effect of many GERD medications on young children is unknown, so lifestyle changes should be the focus of pediatric treatment.
Stomach acid is there for a reason. It helps to break food down so it can be digested and its nutrients used throughout the body. It also helps to keep gut bacteria balanced, serving an important role in the immune system.
In addition, drugs like PPIs sometimes have side effects ranging from constipation and hair loss to depression and osteoporosis. One study found that people taking PPIs for one year or longer showed a significant increase in their risk for hip fractures.
But foregoing the drugs to live with GERD isn’t a good option either. Aside from the discomfort, acid reflux can cause chronic inflammation of the esophagus, leading to bleeding ulcers and even esophageal cancer.
The key is to rein in acid reflux naturally, with changes in dietary habits, and natural treatments where applicable:
Osteopathic treatment also offers very effective treatment to relieve GERD, especially when used in conjunction with natural remedies and behavioral changes. To learn more about relieving your chronic heartburn or to make an appointment for treatment, give our office a call at (631) 377-3629 to make an appointment.