Are Painkillers Making Your Acid Reflux Worse?

Regardless if you suffer from occasional acid reflux, GERD or Barrett’s Oesophagus, did you know that taking certain common painkillers can actually cause or make acid reflux worse?

Acid reflux that results from medication, whether it is over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drugs, is often called acid drug reflux. The frequent and prolonged use of certain drugs such as aspirin can aggravate your stomach and lead to heartburn. In addition, it’s a fact that when used for a long period of time, these acid reflux inducing drugs cause damage and increase the risk of developing GERD.

The most common types of painkillers that cause acid reflux include, but are not limited to:

NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatroy drugs) – NSAIDs are commonly used for pain relief and include common drugs that many people have in their household such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). NSAIDs are used to relieve headaches, body aches and pains, reduce fevers, and for people who have conditions involving inflammation such as arthritis.

Unfortunately, medical studies have revealed that NSAIDs are frequently the cause of peptic ulcers. It has also been found that they may cause GERD, as well as increase the severity of symptoms people with GERD experience. In fact, a three year study found that those who use NSAIDs were two times as likely to experience GERD symptoms compared to those who didn’t use NSAIDs at all.

That being said, understand that those who take NSAIDs on occasion to treat pain (IE a headache), are less likely to develop a case of acid reflux than those who take these drugs on a regular basis. Thus, due to the fact that NSAIDs is the most common treatment for those with rheumatoid arthritis, those who suffer from this condition are far more likely to be at risk for acid reflux and GERD.

Other Medications – There are other drugs that can lead to GERD and make the disease worse. The following is a list of some of these drugs:

o Antibiotics

o Anticholinergics – Drugs that are used to treat glaucoma, allergies and urinary tract disorders.

o Beta adrenergic agonists – Medication prescribed for asthma and obstructive diseases of the lungs.

o Bisphosphonates – treatment for osteoporosis

o Calcium channel blockers – treatment for angina and high blood pressure

o Dopamine – treatment for Parkinson’s disease

o Sedatives

o Supplements – Potassium and Iron Pills

What can you do?

If you need to take any of the above mentioned medications to treat a chronic condition, or are taking other medication that you think may be causing you to experience acid reflux, talk to your doctor about alternatives.

Your doctor may be able to prescribe or recommend other non-NSAIDs pain medication you can take. Your doctor may also recommend that you take medication in combination with your painkillers to help neutralize the acid within your system. The following are two common types of medicines used to deal with acid problems.

1. Antacids – Antacids are drugs in the form of tables or alkali liquids that are designed to neutralize acid. One dose usually provides the sufferer with fast relief of mild symptoms. Most antacids are sold OTC and include: Maalox, Pepto-Bismol, Rolaids and Alka-Seltzer. Some antacids can also be prescribed.

2. Acid-suppressing medicines – There are two types of acid-suppressing medicines: Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) and Histamine Receptor Blockers (H2 antagonists). These drugs are designed to decrease and suppress the amount of acid production in the stomach. They are often used by those who have severe symptoms and are usually prescribed. Some PPIs include: esomeprazole, lansoprazole, and omeprazloe. Some H2 antagonists include: ranitidine, famotidine, climetidine.