Thursday, May 27, 2010

Heartburn or Broken Bones?

Okay, I'm interrupting my summer tips with this "breaking" report. The FDA has issued a warning regarding proton-pump inhibitors (PPI's) which are medicines that stop acid production such as Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, etc. Six of seven studies showed that people, especially those over 50, who take these medications- whether they are the over the counter version or prescribed- for over a year or in high doses, have increased risk of fractures in their hips, spines, and/or wrists.

So what does this mean? Do you have to choose heartburn or broken bones?

Of course not. What it means is that these drugs, like every other class, have potential side effects. We need to use them judiciously, and not as a band-aid for a long term problem. GERD is typically caused by behaviors that can be modified: caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine are at the top of the list. Consider switching gradually to decaf, decreasing your alcohol intake, and quitting smoking instead of routinely grabbing your acid pill every day.

BOTTOM LINE: All medications have side effects; please review ALL of your medications with your doctor and see which, if any, can be reduced or eliminated if you are willing to make some behavioral changes.

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