Heartburn medication has many side effects

    Why You need to stop treating your heartburn symptoms

    Acid reflux medications have some very serious side effects: anemia, heart problems, hypertension, osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and possibly dementia. This article will discuss why you need to stop treating your heartburn symptoms and stop taking these medications.

    Acid reflux medication only treats the symptoms and not the underlying cause.

    These medications are very good at neutralizing the symptoms which result in the problem worsening with extended use. This is evident in the fact that most patients increase their dosage of these drugs over time. So, as a result, it would be legitimate to say that acid reflux medication actually makes your acid reflux worse!


    What you will learn

    Why do you need to stop treating your heartburn symptoms? Because so called acid reflux medications are actually making your acid reflux worse.

    Most people suffering with acid reflux or GERD are never properly tested to determine if they actually have excess stomach acid, and in the majority of cases their doctor prescribes proton pump inhibitors, H2 Blockers, or other antacid medications to reduce the symptoms. 

    The symptoms of low stomach acid and excess stomach acid are nearly the same. While these medications reduce the occurrence of heartburn and acid reflux, over time they will make the problem worse.

    Stop treating your Acid Reflux symptoms! Find the root cause and treat that!

    • Acid Reflux is caused by low stomach acid - so-called acid reflux medications reduce stomach acid - they are only treating the symptoms  
    • Long term use of acid reflux medication will make your acid reflux worse.   
    • Some Acid reflux medications have some very serious side effects

    Treat the Cause, Not the Symptom

    Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s), H2 Blockers, and Antacid medicine provide relief from the symptoms of Heartburn, Acid Reflux and GERD. Make note that I said they offer relief from the symptoms and NOT from the cause.

    If anything, these medications make the problem worse because they neutralize or stop the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Acid Reflux, GERD, and Heartburn are symptoms of not having  sufficient stomach acid.

    But because these drugs hide the symptoms people think they are helping.

    How Do They Work?

    ​​​Protein Pump Inhibitors (PPI's)

    Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce the production of acid by blocking the enzyme in the stomach wall that produces acid. PPI’s are the third largest-selling class of drug, with more than 119 million prescriptions written annually. They generate nearly $14 billion in sales per year. This total does not include the sale of OTC versions of these products.  

    PPI's are the most potent inhibitors of acid secretion available.

    Some examples of PPI’s are:

    • Nexium (Esomeprazole) - It decreases secretion of acid through inhibition of the H+/K+-ATPase in the parietal cells of the stomach. By inhibiting the functioning of this transporter, the drug prevents formation of stomach acid.
    • Prevacid (Lansoprazole) - It inhibits the stomach's production of acid. There is no evidence that its effectiveness is different from that of other PPI's.
    • Prilosec (Omeprazole) - used in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux diseasepeptic ulcer disease, and Zollinger–Ellison syndrome.
    • Zegerid (Omeprazole) - see Prilosec above.
    • Protonix (Pantoprazole) - Used for short-term treatment of erosive esophagitis associated with GERD, maintenance of healing of erosive esophagitis, and pathological hypersecretory conditions including Zollinger–Ellison syndrome.
    • Aciphex (Rabeprazole) - It suppresses gastric acid production in the stomach. Used in the management of conditions that involve excess gastric acid production (e.g. Zollinger–Ellison syndrome), conditions that are worsened by gastric acid (e.g. ulcerations of the gastrointestinal tract), and conditions involving prolonged exposure to gastric acid (e.g. symptomatic gastroesophageal reflux disease).
    • Pantaloc (Pantoprazole) - originally sold under the name Protonix - see above.

    H2 Antagonists

    Histamine H2-receptor antagonists reduce the amount of acid produced by the cells in the lining of the stomach. They do this by blocking the action of histamine at the histamine H2 receptors of the parietal cells in the stomach. This decreases the production of stomach acid. Also referred to as H2 Blockers and H2RA's.

    Some examples of H2 Blockers include:

    Antacid Tablets and Liquids

    Antacid medications use a combination of aluminum, magnesium, or calcium with hydroxide or bicarbonate ions to neutralize stomach acid.

    Some examples of Antacid medications include:

    What Are the Short-Term Side Effects of Taking Acid Reflux Medications?

    Possible Side Effect


    H2 Blocker

    Antacid Medication









    Severe Stomach Pain












    Fast or Uneven Heart Rate




    Jerky Muscle Movements




    Feeling Jittery




    Diarrhea that is Watery or Bloody




    Muscle Cramps




    Muscle Weakness or Limp Feeling




    A Cough or Choking Feeling








    Mild Diarrhea







    X - Products that contain magnesium





    Decreased Appetite




    Dry Mouth




    Sore Throat




    Runny Nose




    Aluminum Intoxification



    X - Products that contain aluminum

    What Are the Long-Term Side Effects of Taking Acid Reflux Medications?

    Unfortunately, long-term use of these medications brings with them much worse side effects, all related to neutralizing or stopping the production of stomach acid.

    Some people are experiencing issues they are blaming on other causes.  They do not realize these issues are a result of taking these medications long term.

    None of these medications are meant to be taken for more than 2 to 8 weeks. Unfortunately most patients take them the rest of their lives and most increase the dosage over time.

    Vitamin B12 Deficiency Caused by PPI’s and H2 Blockers

    Normally Vitamin B12 is obtained from our diet. Stomach acid is required to break down food in order for us to absorb nutrients. Deficiencies in vitamin B12 can produce anemia, depression, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), osteoporosis (increased risk of bone fracture), hypertension, dementia, and neuropathy (disrupted nerve signaling).

    Studies show that most PPI's and H2 blockers decrease absorption of vitamin B12 from foods because of insufficient stomach acid. In one compelling study, 75% of PPI users were deficient in vitamin B12, compared with just 11% in non-users, a significant difference. Other studies document a nearly 4-fold increase in the risk of B12 deficiency among users of PPI's and H2 blockers.

    Experts recommend that, based on current information, people taking PPI therapy for long periods should have their vitamin B12 levels checked and consider supplementation. Vitamin B12 supplied as a crystalline supplement and appears to be better absorbed by people taking PPIs than is vitamin B12 supplied in food. That is because it does not have to be separated from foods in the stomach (which of course requires normal levels of stomach acid).

    Overgrowth of Gut Bacteria Caused by PPI’s and H2 Blockers

    Blocking the production of stomach acid also allows for the overgrowth of gut bacteria and disrupts the balance of healthy gut bacteria. Taking probiotics may help, but the underlying cause needs to be addressed first. Some doctors actually prescribe antibiotics to relieve this issue. This may work but the antibiotics kill all your good bacteria as well as the bad!  

    Decreased resistance to infection

    One of the most important roles of stomach acid is to provide a barrier that protects your stomach from bad bacteria. It prevents this harmful bacteria from entering the intestine. This bacteria can originate in the food we ingest. Stomach acid also prevents bacteria from the intestines moving into the stomach or esophagus. 

    There is evidence that using PPI's or H2 blockers increases the chances of getting Salmonella, Cholera, C. Difficile, Campylobacter, and Giardia. Other studies have shown that these drugs increase the chances of getting Pneumonia, Typhoid, Dysentery, and Tuberculosis.

    Increased risk of cancer and other diseases

    A study published in the journal Gut identified an association between long-term use of the drug and a 2.4 times higher risk of developing stomach cancer. In the UK, there are more than 50 million prescriptions for PPIs every year but they have been linked to side-effects and an increased risk of death.

    This study has several limitations that mean we should be cautious about the results: This type of study can't prove PPIs caused the increased risk of cancer. The increased risk could be down to other factors.

    Researchers were unable to adjust their figures to take account of some relevant confounding factors, such as alcohol and tobacco use, as these weren't routinely recorded.

    Almost all the patients in the study were Chinese. Asians are known to have a higher risk of developing stomach cancer than other populations, so the results may not be applicable to the general UK population. If you're taking them regularly, it may be worth discussing with your doctor whether you still need to. There could be alternative treatments that would be of more benefit.

    The incidence of stomach cancer was 1.0 per 10,000 in people without previous treatment, compared with 8.1 per 10,000 in people who had been treated.

    Do not attempt to stop taking Your PPI's or H2 Blockers Cold Turkey!!

    The discontinuation of long-term PPI therapy often results in a rebound in gastric acid production called Rebound Acid Hypersecretion. Please work closely with your doctor to get off this medication. You must gradually reduce your PPI intake and then replace them with H2 blockers, and/or antacid medication until you no longer experience symptoms.

    Rebound Acid Hypersecretion

    If you do not gradually reduce your PPI or H2 blocker medication you will have acid reflux symptoms worse than you have ever experienced. There was a 2007 study (see next section for reference) where they gave PPI’s to people who did not have acid reflux to see what the results were when they stopped. Every person experienced severe acid reflux for from 4 weeks to 3 months after the end of the study. These people did not have acid reflux prior to taking part in the study!


    Two studies have been reported that validate the concept that acid reflux medications induce acid reflux in people who did not have it prior to taking the medication:

    Low Stomach Acid is the Main Cause of Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and GERD

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