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There is no question that Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) like Prilosec® and Nexium® have made an enormous positive difference in the lives of tens of thousands of patients suffering from Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD) and the serious follow-on diseases that GERD can produce. They work by reducing the amount of acid the stomach produces, which in turn reduces the acid reflux hitting the esophagus and causing heartburn symptoms and inflammation.
There is also no question that, whether over the counter (OTC) or by prescription, these are expensive and powerful drugs with a host of possible side effects, drug interactions and allergic reactions. The side effects can include rash, itch, flatulence, anxiety and depression as well as increased risk of bone fracture, pneumonia, c. difficile infection, iron/B12 deficiencies, etc. Extended use over time can create problems as well.
And, all too often given the billions of marketing dollars behind these pharmaceuticals, there’s the problem of overuse. People often think PPIs are the best medication in all circumstances, but taking a PPI for mild occasional heartburn is like swatting a fly with a bazooka.
So here’s a thought. Since lifestyle modification – attention to diet, weight loss, reduced alcohol intake and tobacco use – are recommended for literally every gastrointestinal complaint, consider adding a probiotic like Florax DS to your lifestyle*.
Research today is actively exploring the potential health benefits of probiotic use for acid reflux disease and results are interesting, to say the least. Maintaining a healthier balance of bacteria in the gut, along with a healthier immune system, would make sense in helping to calm the stormy stomach and help control the “bad” bacteria that are part of the problem.
Talk to your doctor. A medical professional is the one who should be calling the shots when it comes to PPIs and GERD. And by all means, ask about probiotic therapy. You might be surprised what you hear.
* The National Institutes of Health notes that critically ill patients or people with compromised immune systems should not take probiotics.