The People's Perspective on Medicine

Should Doctors Worry About Heartburn Drug Dangers?

When doctors prescribe lots of heartburn drugs like Nexium, Prevacid or Prilosec they may find it hard to believe there could be risks from long term use.

When powerful acid-suppressing drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) were first introduced in 1989 they were promoted as highly effective and extremely safe. Doctors embraced drugs like Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium enthusiastically and quickly turned these medications into billion dollar success stories for the pharmaceutical industry.

When these prescription drugs lost their patent protection the FDA agreed that the medications were so safe they could be sold over the counter without medical supervision. Now you can buy Nexium 24HR, Prevacid24HR and Prilosec OTC in any drugstore without a prescription.

Many doctors remain convinced that these PPIs are among the safest drugs in the pharmacy. It also seems hard for the FDA to embrace the idea that there are serious heartburn drug dangers and that perhaps its approval for OTC status of PPIs may require reconsideration.

Proton Pump Inhibitors and Kidney Disease:

Over the last 25 years, however, side effects from long-term use of PPIs have gradually come to light. The most recent potential complication is chronic kidney disease (CKD). This is a very serious condition that puts people at risk for heart disease and premature death.

The study published in JAMA Internal Medicine (online, Jan. 11, 2016) found that people taking proton pump inhibitors for a long time were more likely to develop chronic kidney disease.

This is an association, and there is no definitive evidence yet that PPIs trigger CKD. But the connection is worrisome. One reader shared his doctor’s perspective on PPIs:

Doctor Denies Heartburn Drug Dangers:

“My doctor prescribed omeprazole for acid reflux and I have been taking it for about a year. At first I took it religiously every day, then occasionally I would skip a day.

“When I read the paperwork included with this medication I was alarmed. It appears that omeprazole is not intended for long-term use. Side effects like bone fractures, diarrhea, cramps and magnesium or calcium depletion seem to become more likely the longer it is used.

“I brought this to my doctor’s attention, but he did not appear nearly as concerned as I am. He said I should take magnesium and calcium supplements and added that over the many years this PPI has been prescribed, he has not seen or read about any problems with long-term use.

“I am not comfortable with what I read, so I do not take the drug daily as prescribed. Instead I take it every other day and sometimes the intervals are longer.

“I keep bringing up these issues and my doctor always reassures me there is nothing to worry about. I will still look for a way to eventually phase off this medication.”

What Happens When PPIs are Stopped Suddenly?

Stopping proton pump inhibitors is not always easy. After a few months the body adapts to a low-acid environment. Discontinuing the drug abruptly may result in severe heartburn symptoms for several weeks.

Nancy shared her accidental withdrawal from a PPI before it went OTC:

“I have been taking omeprazole for some time but forgot to take it with me to California while I was traveling. One day my whole chest was on fire. I saw a local pharmacist and he said it was because I stopped the omeprazole too suddnely and nothing suppressed the acid reflux. He told me to never take omeprazole again that it was a very bad drug and said not to take any type of those medications.”

CAH had a different experience with a pharmacist:

“I have been trying to get off the Prilosec for a couple of years. But if I stop I am so miserable after a few days that I weaken and start it again. Whether it is GERD or acid rebound is impossible to know. I just came from talking to my local pharmacist-who, interestingly, had never heard of a rebound effect from PPIs! He has no helpful advice about how to stop it.”

Long-Term Heartburn Drug Dangers:

Other complications of PPIs include an increased risk of pneumonia, especially among older people. Another infection, Clostridium difficile (C. diff), is linked to PPI use and can cause prolonged and debilitating diarrhea that is hard to treat.

Nutritional deficiencies such as magnesium, iron and vitamin B12 may develop over time. There are data suggesting that chronic PPI users may be at increased risk of cardiovascular complications (PLOS One, June 10, 2015). Such reactions may be rare, but so many patients take PPIs that side effects could have a large impact.

Allison’s experience with proton pump inhibitors:

“I believe that PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) create more problems than they solve. It took me three tries, over several years, to extricate myself from these drugs, after their being prescribed to me for GERD for 15 to 20 years.

“During that period, I developed Vitamin B12 deficiency and osteoporosis as well as sporadic, diarrhea-predominant IBS. I also had a bout of C. difficile colitis. I suspect that PPIs either caused or contributed to all of these conditions and events.”

Beba had a somewhat similar experience:

“I had been on Nexium for 7-8 years for mild GERD. Last year I started having severe side effects, which I didn’t realize were related to the Nexium. I was having severe heart palpitations and muscle cramps/weakness. Since heart disease runs in the family I was sent to cardio dr. who diagnosed me with low magnesium, low iron, b-12 deficiency, no vitamin D levels that registered and calcium levels that were low.

“He sent me to get a Dexa scan where I was diagnosed with osteopenia (pre osteoporosis.) I weaned myself off Nexium, with Zantac every other day and Mothers apple cider vinegar with honey (all organic). I also took DGL licorice and Alka Seltzer antacids.

“It took me two months to get completely off of Nexium, but I did it. I no longer have heart palpitation; my calcium, B-12 and magnesium levels are all normal. However, my Dexa scan is still bad, so I am doubling up on the calcium rich foods and working out. This stuff is bad, I only hope that I haven’t done any damage to my heart. I am scheduled to go back to cardio dr. in May. Wish me luck.”

Other Options:

Some patients may require a PPI for long periods of time, but others may find alternative approaches helpful for controlling heartburn symptoms. For those who would like to learn more about such alternatives and ways to get off PPIs, we offer our Guide to Digestive Disorders. In it you will get more details on DGL licorice and Persimmon-Ginger tea for gradual weaning off powerful acid suppressing drugs. There are also many non-drug options for dealing with heartburn at this link.

Share your own experience with PPIs below as well as strategies for coping with heartburn below in the comment section.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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My doctor prescribed omeprazole 10 mg for my heartburn in June of 2013. As I wasn’t getting much relief, he upped my dosage to 40 mg in Sept of that year. Six weeks later I was diagnosed with triple negative, highly differential, breast cancer and when I started the chemo treatments, was told to stay on the omeprazole as it would help protect my digestive system during treatment. With so much on my plate I never even considered a heartburn medicine as anything to even think about.

Nearing the end of a 5 month regimen of chemo, I developed severe neuropathy in my feet and a mild case in my hands, which my neurologist ordered B12 shots to help combat, as I had low B12 readings. I also began experiencing balance issues, dizziness and lightheadedness.

All of these conditions were considered by-products of the chemo and/or by the radiation treatments, that I had to stop because of damage to my lungs and kidneys. By spring of 2015, I was experiencing extremely painful cramps in my legs and was diagnosed with a magnesium deficiency. As the chemo had brought on the neuropathy, I just assumed it had also caused the B12 and magnesium deficiencies.

When I read the results of the studies released in Feb this year about the dangers of PPIs, I looked at my omeprazole for the first time and decided it might have been a contributing factor. Last week, I decided to not renew my prescription and though I was warned not to go cold turkey, I did. In just three days I was experiencing severe pain and as I’m training for a tri (my first since cancer diagnosis), the stomach pain was interfering with my training and several times I thought I would pass out.

My doctor was not happy with my stopping and reluctantly told me to try Zantac and if that doesn’t work go back on Omeprazole. My father went on dialysis when he was 71 (after being treated for ulcers and heartburn for decades) and stayed on dialysis until his death at 93. Knowledge that this drug probably has kept my body from absorbing vital minerals when I most needed them and that this drug could cause kidney failure is a risk I’m not willing to take.

I will not go back on any ppi, but am wondering if Zantac and other H2 blockers will impact my B12, magnesium and potassium absorption issues as well. And will I have similar withdrawal problems when I try to go off them in about six weeks? It is very difficult to run, bike and swim with no feeling in one’s feet and both thighs cramping, but I can’t do those activities with extreme stomach pain either. Since I have had the neuropathy now for almost two years, no one is optimistic it will go away and I’m not sure this is something I can tolerate for many more years.

In the meantime I hope that I am not jumping from the pot into the fire by switching to the H2 blockers, but I feel like I have no choice. I’m angry that I ever took a ppi. I should have been more vigilant, but was dealing with more pressing health issues. This is a good example of the “cure” being worse than the disease.

I’ve had terrible heartburn for years and my Doctor tried to give me PPI’s. I took them for 2 days but after reading the dangers I stopped. I insisted on tests to find the cause of the heartburn and found I have hiatal hernia.

I have been for two Chiropractor treatments and my heartburn is almost completely gone. I tried this after reading loads of other people’s success with this. I thought I’d give it a whirl before going the surgery route and glad I did! I’m going for a pain free brunch now and going to chat with the waiter there who has had his hiatal hernia cured this way. It’s a mechanical issue.

Mine likely developed because I sit hunched over my coffee table on my lap top for years putting upward pressure on my stomach. I will take care to sit upright and learning to breath correctly. It’s a shame Doctors just want to hook is on dangerous drugs instead of helping to actually fix the problem. Guess that’s too much work or maybe they don’t know how to do anything else but prescribe drugs these days. Thank God for the Internet!

I had been taking first Prilosec and then Prevacid for about 7 years with reasonable success. Over time, it seemed to work less and less, and I had cramps and diarrhea more and more often. Then the cramps got so bad that I would have uncontrollable vomiting at the same time. After two visits to the ER, I knew I had to do something. A cancer survivor friend referred me to a registered dietitian/nutritionist who works with cancer and AIDs patients. Working with her and my gastro doctor, I weaned off the PPIs (almost a month of slowly diminishing heartburn) and did a blood test that showed I had mild to severe allergic reactions (all digestive) to a number of foods, the worst being wheat, scallops and cocoa, and including honey, legumes, acetaminophen and two FD&C food colorings. After eight weeks on an elimination diet, I was able to manage my foods with the information I got. It has now been over two years and I have had only a few minor episodes of digestive upset. The great thing is that there are so many other foods available, including increasing numbers of gluten-free items, that I do not feel deprived. I was even able to reintroduce some foods, like dark chocolate. I lost 35 pounds and feel great!

Today is 5 Feb 16 and I’ve not used the apple cider vinegar for the last three days with no revenge heartburn. I have, though, added probiotic yogurt to my diet (I was already taking one in the AM) and now take one in the PM. All seems to be going alright for me. If I had to complain about anything it’s that I feel required to carry bottled water with me as I very often find I have hiccups unexpectedly.

I too was put on a PPI to counteract side effects from various medications I was put on. But it didn’t take me long to realise just how ill they made me feel, light headed ear problems and stomach problems. As I wasn’t long on them it was easy stopping them. However I went on to develop a hiatus hernia and had silent reflux that effected my balance, my sinus Sore throat hoarse voice headaches the list was endless and following tests was back on the PPI which at first was wonderful as it solved all the other problems. But nine months down the road the side effects kicked in again. This time I decided to read up all I could on acid reflux and I firstly went on a very bland diet , I stood up as soon as I ate and found something to do. I didn’t eat three hours before bedtime, I drank lots of water with lemon slices in it, I found porridge oats helped line my stomach I exercised you name it I did it and I slowly lowered the dose of my tablets. I had been given 30 mg per day so I asked my Dr to give me 2x 15 instead , I took one in the morning and one in the evening I then went onto one in the day but found about twice a week I needed the double dose. I then changed from a morning tablet to one at night. Now please believe me this has not been easy and I do get acid reflux but bearable. I kept this up for several weeks and then took a tablet every second day I now take two to three a week of 15mg I hope to be free of them completely but im taking my time and im being very careful as acid can damage not just your stomach but your throat ,your lungs, and your heart. Once you have weaned yourself off these drugs you need to make permanent lifestyle changes and discuss with your Doctor ways to control your acid. Good Luck !

I weaned myself from PIPs by chewing raw almonds and later, fennel seeds. They both helped and I now use whichever is handy. I keep Tums on hand for a stubborn case but use them less than once a month.

I just weaned myself off Nexium finally after taking it for 8 years. I didn’t have the bad rebound acid, but did have an upset stomach (felt excessive hunger) on the no nexium days. I alternated with zantac for a while, but then decided to use nothing. Since my diet was already much better, that helped. I was told it was safe to continue taking forever and the doctor who first prescribed it scared the hell out of me by saying I would get cancer without it. I weaned off due to low B12, magnesium issues and poor digestion of fats and proteins, all contributing to fatigue, muscle cramping, anxiety and hypoglycemia. The only time the doc tested for magnesium is when I requested it. If a doctor puts a patient on this medication or has a patient taking a ppi, digestive issues and absorption of key nutrients needs to be regularly monitored as part of the annual check up.

After many years of use, and because of what we suspected were problems related to the use of Nexium for her and Prilosec for me; we both quit cold turkey and opted for probiotics. That was 4-years ago…we had no problem quitting. We have been heartburn/reflux free since starting the probiotic regimen. In my case I am no longer diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus. We use an inexpensive mail order product that has over 60-billion plus organisms that includes approximately 10-strains of the B and L bacteria plus a prebiotic.

I have been taking Solox (Lansoprazole) for 4 years. I don’t have any of the side effects described here but after reading several reports on People’s Pharmacy I am starting to get a bit worried. the only side effect I do get is itchy skin sometimes. I am thinking I may try to get off it using the cider vinegar. Another thing I find useful is “potassium punch”. Cabbage, broccoli, kale, parsley and carrot whizzed into a smoothie. It’s not that pleasant but you don’t need much and the carrot makes it drinkable. It’s the brassicas in it that are the essential ingredients. And of course there is always Gaviscon, tablets and liquid that help the world of GERD sufferers go round.

I have been on omeprazole for years (at least 20) I have tried several times to get off them. Started with 20mg a day and Dr. said to take another one if needed. I got down to 10 mg a day, then one every other day. Now am off. but it’s hard– am taking apple cider vinegar and some Tums. I have developed afib and am on warfarin and a couple high blood pressure meds. I think it’s all linked. It’s scary to find the meds have side effects, and what you thought was good for you causes so many more problems. You almost have to be your own Dr.

After about five years of taking Nexium, I had the same cardiovascular problem as Beba did. Out of nowhere, I developed a very erratic pulse and was put on a heart monitor for two days. The result: more than 17,000 irregular ventricular beats, or about 8500 of them each day! It was quite scary.

Eventually, one cardiologist told me that he felt I had a serious deficiency of magnesium (caused by the Nexium), and he helped me taper off. As I did so, he said to take some antacids from my local drug store. He said to be sure they had both calcium and magnesium, since magnesium is important for muscles, and the heart is a muscle. He also said that just taking extra magnesium wouldn’t help. I needed to get off the Nexium.

After about a month of taking Nexium less often and the antacid more and more, the heart arrhythmia disappeared! For the last four years, I’ve been Nexium free. I eat more carefully (no trigger foods) and can get by with maybe one antacid tablet a day (used to need more than that if I ate a little chocolate, tomato, mint, or other trigger foods,). I also had the head of my bed raised 4 inches, and have no problems with heartburn at night. Doing so much better.

Oh, and my cardiologist also said not to use antacids with aluminum (like Gaviscon), just magnesium and calcium. As for baking soda in water, it works, but there is so much sodium in baking soda that you shouldn’t use it very often. That much sodium isn’t good either. Hope this helps someone.

The organic apple cider vinegar worked wonders for me. I used to get horrible heartburn that would not subside with large doses of OTC heartburn medication and even the stronger prescription stuff was fairly ineffective.

I was on Prilosec for 2 yrs for stomach pain. But had NO reflux (heartburn) . Tried to get off Prilosec but could not without severe pain. Requested further examination from my doctor. Sonogram & further exams could not find the cause. Finally had an endoscopy. This showed that a valve in my stomach was clogged. Clog was removed
& from that moment on NEVER have had any pain & can digest anything.
Makes me wonder how many other people out there have been misdiagnosed.

I was put on Prevacid, twice a day, back in January 2008, when I had three stomach ulcers and ulcerative colitis. I believe it developed from long-term use of INDOMETHACIN SUSTAINED-RELEASE CAPSULE, which I was given by my Rheumatologist. Unfortunately, it was the only thing that had helped me with the severe Arthritis. I was also given Cytotec to “protect my stomach”. I was hospitalized after I blacked out while driving home from the doctor. I did have diarrhea, and that was the reason I went to the doctor, as well as fatigue. This was on a Friday, and while being very tired, I managed until Sunday. My daughter called me, which I didn’t remember. Then she and her husband showed up at my door. She said I didn’t make sense when we talked on the phone. They helped me to her van, and she took me to the hospital. I remember seeing the Emergency Room sign, but that is about all. I had trouble remembering where I was. Was in the hospital for several days and lots of tests, IV’s, etc. My son convinced me that I needed to move to Portland, OR to be closer to medical care. Where I lived in Montana was 45 miles to a small town and small hospital. It was a difficult choice, as my grand kids were there in Montana, but my daughter had her hands full with her family and home schooling.

My doctor here kept me on the same dosage of PPI’s until recently. I read some of the articles about them, and I asked him to take me off of them. He finally agreed to dropping one but because I am taking Celebrex, he was afraid I would develop another ulcer. Certainly I don’t want that, but am afraid to continue after reading all the problems it causes, some of which I have experienced: low/ normal B12 and Iron. I still have fatigue, but that may be from other medical problems. I will need to research other ways for treating the GERD and possible ulcers. Any help would be appreciated.

I had terrible abdominal cramps in the middle of the night ongoing for months. The pain was down in the groin or lower side..like appendicitis. I still have my appendix. Pepto bismol and antacids did nothing to help. Then I started having blood in my stool. I was losing sleep every night, getting up and sitting on the toilet and heaving. I took hot baths and lots of Tylenol PM to try to get back to sleep. I was scared of having cancer, and got referred to a GI. I altered my died and was down to eating bland foods but still got pains at night. GI told me to elevate my bed, but I didn’t have GERD and that didn’t help. I got upper GI test, and then later a colonoscopy. All that was found was “gastritis” and hemhorroids. Well, no kidding. Then my doctor had me take Omeprazole. This drug worked for me. He told me I would have to take it the rest of my life. Also, I could eat anything I wanted. I have been on it perhaps 6 years now. I swear when I started taking it (over the counter) the instructions for patients said to take it for 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off, which is what I did. Now I take it every day, because if I forget I get pains in a couple of days. So I don’t know what to make of this research. I can’t imagine not taking this medication because I will start having severe abdominal pain.

After being diagnosed with GERD I was advised to take Prilosec for three months. This brought GERD under control. However, I was told about the problems with long term use of Prilosec (and other PPIs) and advised to minimize their use by substituting an antacid such as Zantac. I experimented and found that after taking Prilosec one day and following that with daily use of Zantac 150 (twice daily) that I could go without Prilosec for 10 days before having acid problems. As a result, I started using Prilosec once per week and Zantac the other days. It has now been many years, and except for an occasional flare-up that is easily handled by over-the counter antacid tablets, I have not had a problem.

I too was a victim of prolonged PPI usage (Nexium) for over 15 years. I tried so many times to get off of it, since before it was available over the counter it was very expensive. For five years I had such painful abdominal cramping every morning that I could not go anywhere before noon. I was sent to two different gastroenterologists who did colonoscopies etc. but kept me on the Nexium. I developed osteoporosis as well.

After many tries to wean off the Nexium I finally succeeded using the apple cider vinegar/honey mixture, sipping it several times during the day and always at bedtime. Now, I only need it occasionally, especially if I eat chocolate. I am currently working to overcome the osteoporosis, as doctors want me to take the prescription meds for that, and I refuse due to the side effects. As a retired R.N. I am so disappointed that the physicians are not getting the message from their patients that many of these wonder drugs are only causing us bodily damage.

Ron B. I, too, was on Prilosec for years and suffered from occasional bouts of diarrhea and muscle weakness. I had tested low on the usual blood elements related to Prilosec use and was on calcium, D, magnesium and iron supplements. Last summer I discussed my concerns with my doctor and though he was reluctant to stop the Prilosec he switched me to 2 Zantac a day and antacids. The first 2 months were miserable with the heartburn I had to endure. It took many months to feel and eat normal again and I am not positive I am completely through the ordeal yet. Though Prilosec does its job well, in my opinion the consequences are not worth it long term, especially for a senior.

Life has been a dark ride since it came to light that an important vitamin my M.D. had prescribed was not being absorbed into my system. We concluded that the only factor had to be the omeprazole which was interfering with the metabolic process.

Bravely, I decided to go off the omeprazole, with first a taper, then leading to completely eliminating this drug.

The rebound effect was horrendous, and if I hadn’t been so afraid of the consequences of continued use I would have gladly continued just to get some relief. 10 months later my heartburn is manageable, mostly with sipping apple cider vinegar and honey (2 tsp each) in a cup of hot water. Forgive a lay person for this random thought but isn’t stomach acid there for some good reason, and should we really be happy to stop it from doing it’s job?

Please keep doing this important work of injecting sanity into science.

There seem to be so many differing thoughts on PPIs. I took generica Prilosec for about seven years and then decided to stop after reading about scary effects from long term use. I ordered the People’s Pharmacy guide and used several of their suggestions. After three or so months, I could finally get through a day without discomfort.

Several months later, I started getting severe heartburn again, went to the doctor, had an upper endoscopy and learned I had an esophagus with scleroderma and he put me back on Prilosec. I am disappointed after all the effort it took to get off PPIs, but his reasoning was the good outweighed the bad.

I have not read anything that reassures me to stay on the PPI and feel like I should wean myself off again, but am scared about the scleroderma. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Around 5 years ago, I started taking Prilosec every day at my doctor’s direction and continued for two years. One day your newsletter contained a warning that it had been reported that Prilosec taken every day for two years or more had caused weakness in leg muscles and unsteadiness in walking. Those were the exact same symptoms I was beginning to have and couldn’t figure why.
Then I knew! Immediately I quit taking Prilosec and used Alka Seltzer or Zantac 150 whenever I felt the need to have relief.

Unfortunately, my side effects got worse and I found myself bumping into walls around the house and not being able to stand upright without swaying. To make a long, long story short, I got help and started on a series of exercises that I think will make me normal again in another 6 months to a year. The road to wellness has been a long one.

At the suggestion of a pharmacist, I am now using a spoonful of baking power in a glass of water whenever I feel the need to squelch any production of acid. The Alka Seltzer or the Zantac were doing a good job, but after having the side effects produced by the Prilosec, I am very reluctant to take any medicine (I have been taking a blood pressure pill for years but am trying to reduce the readings by some of the ways mentioned in your newsletters and eventually stop that medicine). Do you think the soda and water might have adverse effects in the long run? What do you think of the idea? I have seen no reference to baking soda and water in your newsletters, but it is working for me.

I was on Priolsac for almost 3 months and now without it for over 2 months and doing great.
The process of coming off of it took about 6 weeks omitting taking one day in week one then 2 days the next week and so forth.
During that time and now I take a DGL 20 min before eating a meal.
If I feel a problem I take a Pepsid which doesn’t have the harmful effect of long term PPI’s. So far so good.

DGL is wonderful (DGL=De-Gycyrrhizinated Licorice)!

However, I suggest that you avoid any DGL that has added chocolate &/or mint, as flavoring, because both chocolate and/or mint, cause a weakening of the LES (Lower Esophageal Sphincter)–The LES is a circular band of muscles, found between the bottom of the esophagus (food tube) and the top of the stomach.

Weakening the LES then promotes MORE reflux than before! (easier for food to “reflux” upwards from stomach into esophagus).

So, while tapering down acid blockers (slowly, to prevent that “rebound extra stomach acid production), and while taking DGL lozenges (chew the DGL lozenge, to allow the DGL lozenge to mix with saliva for a few seconds, before swallowing), make sure your DGL is plain (not flavored with chocolate or mint)!

I was on various ppis for years until my gastroenterologist discovered that they had caused me to have stomach polyps. I tried to wean off the medication and could not. I ended up having surgery – fundoplication. The fundi of the stomach is wrapped around the esophagus and stitched down. It wasn’t an easy recovery, but I have NO reflux at all and take no medication. This may not be a solution for everyone, but it was life changing for me.

My daughter has been on steroids for three years for lupus. To avoid damage to her stomach her doctor has had her on two omeprazole daily. If she weans off them, what can she safely use to replace them, as she will still be using prednisone?

After reading your dire warnings about PPI’s, I tried to wean myself off them gradually last spring and summer. Ended up with a bad case of gastritis and esophagitis. Neither my primary care nor my gastro doc are of any help in how to stop them. However, they do agree that PPI’s are not good for me.

You are my only hope with this problem short of surgery for acid reflux. Keep on printing comments from those who were successful to help us who are still stuck with them!

I saw a gastroenterologist on the Dr’s tv show and he said to chew gum for gerd. I tried it and it works. I always have chewing gum around me though I rarely need it anymore.

I was diagnosed with GERD and took the PIP meds for a short time before stopping after a previous writeup here in the Peoples Pharmacy warned of the dangers. Stopping was not difficult but GERD symptoms continued until I bought an adjustable bed from Costco because of a bad back problem and began sleeping on it on 12-29-2015. The only thing this bed does for the GERD symptoms is to raise the head of the bed to an angle of approximately 20 to 30 degrees. Since then I have been GERD symptom free and take nothing for the GERD.

Coincidence? Think what you will but I am a believer!

I’d like you to discuss tips specifically for people with hiatal hernias trying to get off PPIs. Been on them for ~7 years and am concerned by side effects, risks – and sometimes they still aren’t enough (even on GERD diet). Trying to “wean” by using 1 OTC Prevacid/day instead of 2 plus DGL, enzymes, etc. Last time made it a year then had horrible break-through acid. So far, a few weeks, taking Zantac AM, Prevacid b4 dinner, but occasional reflux (usually before Prevacid or later in evening) is very harsh.

I have been on Nexium for over 5 years because I have been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia which gives me real bad acid reflux. My last gastroscopy had revealed that I had lower esophagus inflammation. Like many doctors out there, I was told that it was safe to take for a long period of time. I also found out that like many other patients on that medication, I was low on calcium/magnesium and had to take Vitamin B12 shots. On my own, I decided to wean myself off the drug but I had terrible rebound effects which prompted me to get back on it, every time I tried. Finally, I had read that raw organic vinegar does wonders for acid reflux, I was weary of trying since vinegar is…well acidic and I was convinced it would make my reflux worse. I now have been on 2 table spoons of raw organic cider vinegar with 2 tsp of honey in hot water, every morning in an empty stomach and I cut the Nexium capsule in half and sprinkle it on apple sauce. I have skipped the Nexium gradually and it seems to work for me. I am on my way to totally eliminate the Nexium but it does take time and perseverance.

Your next article on those “PPI”s should include the information about them being a classification of drugs that has been reportedly causing “brittle bone disease” later on in life. I don’t have the time or links to show this right now but I got in trouble at the VA for bringing this subject up in a group setting. While the ‘providers’ wanted to just keep on pushing those types of drugs on us for those common stomach ailments. Just a FYI.

Fermented vegetables made all the difference low acid problems..

Does anyone know how PPI’s play into a dx of Barrett’s Esophagus, GERD and Esophageal strictures. My GI doctor prescribed Prevacid and said I need to take it long term if I am to reduce my risk of developing Esophageal cancer. For 3 years I refused to take a PPI and treated my condition with Aloe Vera, Vitamin B Complex and Acidophilus, however, on a repeat EGD I had 2 new esophageal ulcers and a new dx of stricture. I have been on Prevacid since Nov ’15 and go for a repeat EGD in Feb ’16 to see if my ulcers have healed and if I need a dilatation for my stricture. I am not comfortable taking PPI’s long term, but am also fearful of the risk factor of developing cancer if I do not continue on them. Any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I had taken Nexium for years and became more and more worried about the reports of magnesium problems and calcium concerns. I didn’t feel good on the drug; I honestly noticed subtle changes in kidney function- urine output specifically and a slow increase in my blood pressure. I don’t know if those changes were associated with the drug or not, but I was determined to get off of it. However, like many others have said, the rebound effects were tough. Then a new nurse practitioner came to my doctor’s office at a time I needed to be seen and my regular doctor was not available. I mentioned wanting to get off the Nexium and he told me how to do it. Please don’t get mad, because it was over a year ago and I cannot remember the exact “formula”, but it involve taking a specific series of Zantac over a 10 day period. It worked beautifully. I have been off the Nexium over a year. So, for now, I currently take one 75mg Zantac a day. Our family history of GERD is well documented and I know I have a small hiatal hernia, as well, but I am off the PPIs.

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