Medical Science - Other

A look at Health Risks associated with the Overuse of Heartburn Blockers

Danelle Karth's image for:
"A look at Health Risks associated with the Overuse of Heartburn Blockers"
Image by: 

Heartburn can be a burning and aching in the chest. It can make you feel as though you are going crazy, can distract you from everyday life, and can even keep you awake at night. Because heartburn can make life horrible, it is great to have medication that can help those who are dealing with it regularly. However, overuse of these drugs can and often do cause serious health risks.


For some time now there are a variety of antacids that have been used for keeping heartburn at bay. These medications are inexpensive and very easy to get your hands on. However, it is often a bad idea to over use these medications. While many side effects are merely a nuisance, they can become serious over time. Over use of antacids can cause constipation, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Long term use can make constipation and diarrhea can be serious.

Proton Pump Inhibitors and Histamine Antagonists (H2 Antagonist).

These drugs are fairly new on the market. The scary thing is that they are being prescribed and consumed in huge numbers. That in turn means that there are lots of people who are opening themselves to possible risks. Most people don't realize that these common drugs can and do have risks associated with their use, especially long term or sustained use.

-When one stops taking these medications they are likely to go through withdrawal symptoms. This alone is something to be concerned about. It can make it difficult to stop taking them.

-There are a number of symptoms that are associated with heartburn. The scary thing is that research has shown that all of these symptoms including the pain, the burning, and even indigestion and other discomforts can be caused from taking these medications. In fact, people who don't experience heartburn are likely to have it if they start taking these medications. That creates a great dependency and makes it very difficult to stop taking the medications.

-While addictions to these medications and a dependency on them isn't a good thing, it is better than some of the other issues. One of those is that long term use of these anti-heartburn medications is a nutritional deficiency. Acid is a huge part of digestion of food and breaking down of vitamins and minerals. Your body may not get all that it needs if it doesn't have enough acid.

-Additionally by cutting off the acids in the stomach the body is more likely to get an infection. Many bacteria are introduced to the body and are usually destroyed in the stomach by the powerful acid found there. However, when there isn't very much acid in the stomach many of these bacterium will live, reproduce, and even cause major infections some of which can be fatal.

-Most of the risks associated with taking these medications are clearly connected and easily seen. You have a bacteria infection because you don't have enough acid to destroy it. However, another risk is that of fractures. Hip fractures are particularly common with the over use of these medications, but other fractures are also a problem.

All in all, overuse of heartburn blockers is a problem. Sometimes the risks are small and the consequences easy and other times they are life altering. Fractures and major infections are definitely something to be concerned about. It is best to start by changing your lifestyle and aiming for natural remedies to get rid of your heartburn rather than jumping at the chance for antacids, proton pump inhibitors, or histamine antagonists.

More about this author: Danelle Karth

From Around the Web