Acid blocking drugs like Pepcid and Prilosec have become a billion dollar industry and these drugs are among the top prescribed drugs in the United States. Doctors often prescribe these medications for heartburn, indigestion, bloating, and other nonspecific gastrointestinal symptoms and leave patients on these drugs indefinately. Now that these drugs are available without a prescription, the problem of long-term use of acid blockers is becoming even more of an epidemic. These drugs have long-term side effects and do not address the cause of the problem. Here are 5 reasons why these drugs are a bad idea.
- Stomach acid is one of our body’s first lines of defense against bacteria, viruses, and fungal pathogens. Decreasing stomach acid increases our risk for infections.
- Stomach acid is essential for digestion of food, especially proteins, which require an acidic environment to be broken down.
- Stomach acid is needed for absorption of vitamins, such as Vitamin B12, as well as minerals like calcium, zinc and magnesium. Read more about B-12 deficiency that is commonly caused by these medications.
- Acid blockers are habit forming: Daily use of acid blockers for long periods of time causes a rebound effect when the medication is stopped, making it very difficult to get off of these medications. This is beneficial to the drug companies but harmful to the patient.
- These drugs don’t fix the real problem: Acid blockers make the stomach contents less acidic so there is less burning when reflux occurs but it does not address the root cause of the problem.
Stay tuned for more on the causes of heartburn and indigestion and how to approach the root cause…