Saturday, October 29, 2011

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD affects millions of Americans. In fact, proton pump inhibitors or PPI are the second-largest selling prescription drugs on the market. Proton pump inhibitors prevent acid reflux by reducing acid production in the stomach. Stomach acid is considered to be the primary cause of acid reflux.

Acid reflux is a condition in which food from the stomach leaks back to the esophagus, causing heartburn. This backup may result when a ring of muscles above the stomach, called a sphincter, does not close properly and allows the food to move back up towards the throat.

Common symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn or a burning pain in the chest, nausea after eating, bringing food back up after eating, difficulty swallowing and sore throat. Symptoms may be more pronounced at night.

Some factors that may contribute to the development of acid reflux include obesity, pregnancy and smoking. Certain medications can also lead to heartburn. These include drugs used for seasickness,  high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, Parkinson's disease, contraception, anxiety, sleep disorders or depression. If you are taking medications for any of these conditions and experiencing heartburn, tell your doctor.

One of the most important things you can do to prevent acid reflux is to avoid foods that cause the problem for you. Acetaminophen may be used to relieve pain. However, you should avoid certain drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen.

Over-the-counter antacids may be used after meals and at bedtime. But be aware that they may cause diarrhea or  constipation in some individuals. Prescription drugs, such as proton pump inhibitors or PPIs and H2 blockers may also be used. In extreme cases, surgery may be recommended.

Certain meds used for acid reflux may increase the risk of bone fractures.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Possible Increased Risk of Bone Fracture with Certain Antacid Drugs