Things you should know that your doctor may not be telling you about GERD.

Understand that GERD is an abnormal passage of acid, digestive enzymes and food into the esophagus and even up into the upper airways and even sinuses. It apparently is the scourge of modern man. Once very rare, it is increasing 30% per year of people having significant reflux symptoms. Overwhelmingly, healthcare professionals rely solely on acid suppression as their therapies. Proton pump inhibitors released in the early 1980s are used universally by gastroenterologists as their primary therapy. Proton pump inhibitors are very helpful in controlling heartburn and healing ulcers in the esophagus, but do not help with the symptoms of regurgitation and poorly control respiratory reflux symptoms. The symptoms of chronic cough, chronic hoarseness, voice changes, feeling a lump in the throat, chronic sinusitis, otitis and tonsillitis in adults, dental enamel erosions, reactive airway disease asthma, and pulmonary fibrosis all are related to reflux and are poorly treated by acid suppression alone.

Things you should know about PPI’s and Reflux Medication

PPI medications do not stop the potential for the progression of acid reflux disease. Refluxed stomach contents may also contain bile; which research at the University of Rochester has found to be an underlying factor for Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.
PPI’s permit GERD sufferers to maintain the lifestyle and diet that created the GERD problem in the first place. Many experts believed the increase in incidents of acid reflux (one of five adults is related to diet and obesity. However, once PPIs reduce or eliminate the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux, there is no reason to work on fixing the underlying conditions that triggered the disease.

After starting PPI’s, it is difficult and painful to discontinue daily use. Acid rebound affect is a real condition that occurs when suddenly stopping PPI use. Since the pain is more severe than the normal GERD symptoms from hypersecretion of acid after stopping PPI’s, those attempting to quit them give up and continue to take their PPI medication daily. This period of hypersecretion may last over one week.

Long-term daily use of PPI’s is associated with many health risks. On the patient’s insert, the FDA has required these drugs to highlight the increased risk of c-diff colitis infections, malabsorption of calcium relating to broken bones, and the malabsorption of magnesium leading to muscle and nerve dysfunction and increased cardiac arrhythmia’s. In addition, research has found increased risk of pneumonia, heart attacks, kidney failure, dementia, and several other serious conditions. A major study involving over 300,000 patients for over five years showed a 50% mortality rate increase in PPI users and a 25% increased mortality rate in histamine 2 antagonist users (Pepcid and Zantac) in equally ill patients not on the antacid therapy.

It is imperative that GERD sufferers educate themselves on a GERD friendly diet and lifestyle and try to take the safest medical regimen possible. There are no known side effects of over-the-counter antacids such as TUMS, Gaviscon, or Maalox. Pepcid and Zantac are safer than Nexium and Prilosec type drugs. Long-term therapy has multiple problems that are now being exposed. Please review the medical research associated with long-term complications of PPI’s.