Reflux and all kinds of indigestion problems are so common these days that different kinds of medication to relieve these symptoms are sold over the counter, without the need for a prescription. This is not necessarily a good thing because most of us don’t know that these medicines are not risk free at all, but can potentially be dangerous.
Basically two types of medication is used for reflux problems, the “old-fashioned” H2 blockers such as ranitidine (Zantac), and the more common these days, PPI’s, proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole, esomeprazole (Nexium) and pantoprazole (Pantoloc). For these medicines you don’t need a prescription which is why people tend to think they are harmless. I don’t think they are and I would be concerned about the effects of a long term use of these medicines. The reason is that this type of medication has actually been linked to increased risk for stomach cancer. When searching, I also came across with one study, done to examine risk of death among the users of PPI’s, such as omeprazole. This study was done with US veterans and it seems that PPI’s did clearly increase overall mortality quite significantly. This was not found with H2 blockers. Risk of dementia rose among those using PPI’s, there was also a risk of difficult bowel infections, caused by bacteria such as antibiotic resistant c-difficile, increased risk of pneumonia, heart disease, kidney problems and lack of iron, calcium and vitamin B12.
In my experience, it is quite clear that grain-free and sugar-free nutritious diet low in carbohydrates reduces reflux or indigestion symptoms significantly, better than any medication. These type of symptoms are nearly always caused by something you eat, so you should give this diet a try if you constantly suffer with reflux problems and your doctor has ruled out any other cause ( such as H.Pylori infection).
PPI’s are often also prescribed with anti-inflammatories, to protect the stomach lining and prevent ulcers caused by anti-inflammatories. Don’t forget that this diet significantly reduces inflammation and is very beneficial in many conditions requiring constant anti-inflammatories. Also I found no studies on what the long-term effects of these two medications together would be, so rather than any medication, I would always try this diet first.
Food is your medicine!