Drugs for acid reflux have the potential to interact with other medications. The most significant interactions are caused by medications like beta blockers and ACE inhibitors that are prescribed for the treatment of hypertension.
Other medications used to treat heartburn, such as cimetidine and ranitidine, can also interact with these drugs.
The most common adverse reaction to drugs used to treat acid reflux is diarrhea, headaches and abdominal pain. But, even more serious interactions can occur when taking medications such as Prilosec (a commonly prescribed medication for GERD), with blood thinners like Coumadin, as well as with antibiotics, diuretics, seizure medication, and medications for angina.
Some physicians will even warn that GERD medications are really just meant for short term use, and not for taking for long periods of time.
Prescription Medications for Acid Reflux Simply Do Not Cure
There are numerous reasons why prescription medications simply do not cure chronic acid reflux or solve this ailment long-term. Prescription medications for acid reflux may create more of a problem than the patient had to begin. Doctors often prescribe antacids or prescription medications initially to see if the condition will resolve itself, but these same medications can have harmful side effects and damage the stomach lining with prolonged use.
Acid Reflux Medications May Create More Problems Than They Solve
Medical intervention to treat acid reflux is a massive industry and the third largest for prescribed medications, just after heart disease and diabetes.
The mouth, esophagus, and intestines are hosts for up to 1,000 species of bacteria. However, because of the stomach’s naturally acidic environment, it is almost entirely sterile.
The stomach presents a formidable barrier for invading bacteria to cross, with its acid content able to destroy bacteria within a few minutes. It also manages to keep beneficial bacteria harbored in the mouth and esophagus from moving into the intestines where they could cause problems, and vice versa.
Usually, the acid content of the stomach sits at a pH of around 3, which creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria to reproduce. If the pH rises to 5 or more, then bacteria populations can expand and thrive. It is this type of scenario that antacid medication creates in the stomach.
Acid Reflux Medications Can Reduce Stomach Acid Secretion By Up To 95%
Some acid reflux medications, in fact, can raise the pH of the stomach to 5.5 and over. A few are even more extreme and can reduce stomach acid secretion by up to 95%, which continues for most of the day. Some patients on acid reflux medication are even spending the better part of their day with stomach acid levels at or near zero!
Therefore, instead of the stomach providing a hostile environment for bacteria, problematic and harmful bacteria find a beneficial warm and moist environment that also happens to have an abundant supply of nutrients. Research is also starting to shed light on how the chance of adverse health complications, such as infections and cancer, may be increased when taking acid reflux and heartburn medication over a long period. [* 1]
Because it’s an issue of such great magnitude, an examination into the root causes of the acid reflux problem may lead to healthier solutions than potentially harmful medications can provide.