Researchers have revealed popular acid-lowering treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) possibly do nothing to stop the condition’s true cause.
A team from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found GERD might be caused by immune-system-induced inflammation rather than stomach acid, Reuters reports.
In the study, researchers found stomach acid and bile took weeks to erode the esophagus. This made little sense, as acid usually causes immediate damage to tissue such as the skin.
Upon further examination, the team revealed esophagus cells sent out inflammatory signals in reaction to bile salts, according to Reuters. This seems to negate the belief that GERD is a direct result of acid invading the esophagus.
Antacids and acid-suppressing drugs have been used for years to treat GERD. Unfortunately, these medications come with several dangerous side effects.
Until researchers are able to determine the root cause of GERD, it might make sense to avoid drugs such as Prilosec and Nexium. An alternative that supports the digestive process is a digestive enzyme supplement with soothing herbs such as DGL, marshmallow root and aloe vera.
The Food and Drug Administration warns that acid-reflux drugs Prilosec and Nexium should not be taken with blood-thinner Plavix.
Plavix’s label cautions against the use of the heartburn drugs, as Prilosec and Nexium make the blood-thinning medication half as effective, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Other drugs that should not be taken with Plavix include Tagamet, Intelence, Felbatol, Diflucan, Nizoral, Luvox, Ticlid and Prozac.
The Times reports on a study from Mount Sinai Medical Center in which Prilosec and Protonix were found to be dangerous following balloon angioplasty. In a five-year follow-up, patients taking Prilosec and Protonix were 72 percent and 54 percent more likely to die, respectively, than patients not on heartburn drugs.
A possible alternative to antacids and acid-reducing drugs are digestive enzyme supplements combined with herbal ingredients, including aloe, DGL and marshmallow, which might help soothe an irritated digestive tract.
A prescription and over-the-counter drug used to control stomach acid made it on a list of medications doctors said they were most likely to avoid.
In a 2008 story on the potential dangers of prescription drugs, MSNBC asked doctors which drugs they wouldn’t recommend. That list included Prilosec and Nexium.
Among the potential problems were the following:
- A possible link to heart troubles
- An increased risk of pneumonia
- A greater likelihood of fracture due to inadequate calcium absorption
Other reports reveal Nexium could lead to intestinal infection. With long-term use, acid-suppressing medications have even been associated with stomach cancer.
What’s more, a story from WebMD Medical News said prescription acid blockers taken during pregnancy increase the likelihood by 51 percent that a child will suffer from asthma symptoms.
Other drugs doctors said they would avoid, according to the MSNBC story, included Advair, for asthma; Avandia, for diabetes; Celebrex, for pain relief; and pseudoephedrine, for congestion.