As you probably know, when I say PPI’s I mean “proton pump inhibitors.” These medications are widely available over-the-counter and by prescription to treat heartburn, acid reflux, GERD and the like (these drugs have names that end in “zole:” omeprazole is one example).
News outlets recently reported that a recent study linked PPI’s to a “moderately” increased risk of getting COVID-19. It’s important to note that more research is needed in order to confirm this initial finding – right now this link is just a “maybe” – so no need to panic if you take PPI’s.
As you also may know, this possible COVID-19 link isn’t the only concern when it comes to long-term PPI use. Over the past several years, numerous studies have suggested that PPIs might raise the risk of serious health problems, like heart disease or kidney failure, for example. So, if you take a PPI, you may want to speak to your healthcare professional about the potential risks (do not stop taking medications without talking to your doctor).
All of that said, thankfully, there are some non-PPI ways to treat acid reflux and heartburn. One of the best ways is by losing weight. People who reduce their waistline almost always see an improvement in their acid reflux symptoms. But if you’re looking for more immediate heartburn relief, you can try these natural ways to treat acid reflux:
- Avoid snacking in bed
- Reduce your alcohol consumption
- Drink a little baking soda mixed with water
- Sip peppermint or ginger tea – warm or cold
- Chew a stick of sugar-free gum after eating (but not mint-flavored gum, as that might make your reflux worse)
- Elevate the head of your bed slightly to keep acid in your stomach, where it belongs
- Take a probiotic supplement
- Use a non-PPI antacid, such as calcium-based chewables, Milk of Magnesia, or a commercial sodium bicarbonate drink
Heartburn not only feels painful, but untreated acid reflux can lead to long-term health issues, including esophageal cancer – so treating it is important. If you’re concerned about taking PPI’s, talk to your doctor about potential alternatives.
BY ELIZABETH HANES, BSN, RN