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Acid Reflux: Don't Underestimate Acid Reflux Disease

June 1, 2014

Sometimes referred to as “heartburn,” acid reflux disease is frequently dismissed as a nuisance. But if chronic and not properly treated, acid reflux disease can lead to serious damage to the tissues of the stomach and esophagus. That damage can, among other things, make it hard to swallow and can lead to ulcers. Severe acid reflux disease can even cause damage to the enamel of teeth. In this post to HealthConnection, Nurse Practitioner and digestive diseases expert Jan Seliga answers questions about acid reflux disease.

Questions:

  1. What is acid reflux and is it the same as what is commonly called “heartburn?”
  2. Acid reflux seems more common today than it was a decade ago. What’s the reason for the increase?
  3. What are the different categories of medication for acid reflux and how do they work?
  4. How does one decide when to take antacids as opposed to drugs such as Pepcid AC, Prilosec or Nexium?
  5. Are there side effects or risks associated with using drugs like Pepcid AC, Zantac or Nexium?
  6. What about the links reported in the news between the long-term use of drugs like Nexium, Prilosec or Prevacid and an increased risk for pneumonia, fractures or dementia?
  7. Should those who take prescription drugs to treat acid reflux for long periods be concerned about any increased risk of side effects or other problems?
  8. By the same token, what are the risks of untreated acid reflux?
  9. What would you consider to be a common-sense approach to the use of medications for acid reflux?
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