Heartburn is common problem for my patients and many people living in the United States today: 20 million Americans, to be exact. Heartburn is a painful, burning sensation in the chest caused by a backflow from the stomach, irritating the esophagus. Heartburn can be caused by several triggers including spicy foods, stressful situations, being overweight, smoking, reduced stomach acid, eating too late at night or overeating at any given meal.
These triggers are important to understand because once you have identified the trigger you can eliminate the pain and the condition of heartburn. As a naturopathic doctor this is always my first, best choice. Many more conventional doctors will recommend medications to help reduce symptoms in patients having the problem several times a week. While this seems to be a viable option for treatment, I want to bring the finding of a new study up for consideration.
One medication that is used to treat heartburn, called a proton pump inhibitor, has been shown in a new study published in Gastroenterology, July 2009, to actually cause heartburn symptoms once it stopped being used.
In a group of well participants (people who had no symptoms at the beginning of the study), 44 percent developed heartburn symptoms after being taken off the proton pump inhibitors. This means that a percentage of the people who stop taking the medication because they stop getting heartburn symptoms will start getting heartburn as a result of withdrawing the medication.
In the study it is noted that perhaps there needs to be restrictions on the policy related to prescribing this class of medication liberally. My suggestion is that you consider using natural approaches first, including seeing a naturopathic doctor before resorting to medications for heartburn. Naturopathy has great treatments for stomach and digestive problems!
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