Greater than 40 percent of American adults have heartburn. And they are many times diagnosed with GERD — gastroesophageal reflux disease. But there are many misconceptions about the cause of GERD. Drugs like Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid have, through advertising, persuaded GERD patients to get rid of the symptoms — that is, block the production of stomach acid.
But the stomach must be acidic in order to digest food properly. And studies show that long term use of these GERD drugs has serious health risks which include kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and even increased rates of death.
Drug companies take advantage of patient’s thinking that they need to reduce acid production in the stomach. They do this by their advertising which is very influential. Three years ago, over 15 million were on these GERD drugs in America. They do reduce the symptoms of GERD, but the side effects are serious.
Reducing the acidity of the stomach reduces the ability of the stomach to act as a barrier to various infections. This also leads to or absorption of nutrients.
Long-term use of these drugs increase:
• Risk of kidney disease
• Blood vessel calcification
• Nutritional deficiencies
• Cardiovascular disease
• Infections including pneumonia
• Microbial disruption
• Bone fractures
• Risk of death
And all the while, the GERD may be caused by a sleep disorder that 90 percent don’t know they have! That disorder is obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. Studies show that 60 percent of patients who have OSA also have the symptoms of GERD. We know that OSA is treatable with a simple mouthpiece known as an oral appliance or mandibular advancement device. This must be made by a qualified dentist and it has the potential to stop the symptoms of GERD.
OSA causes GERD because when breathing stops in an apneic event, the chest cavity is without air. So the pressure there is negative and draws the stomach contents up into the throat — even into the sinuses. Many of these patients think they have asthma! In addition, when an apneic event occurs, the abdomen contracts to try to suck air into the lungs and this contraction forces the contents of the stomach up into the throat. Those drugs mentioned above cannot stop this!
There is a simple test for OSA that can be done right in your home known as a home sleep test. Make a free consultation appointment in our office to discuss this — OSA is deadly. If you snore, have daytime sleepiness, or don’t feel FABULOUS when you wake up, you may have OSA. Our website www.NwSleepDoc.com has a lot on information you may be interested in regarding OSA and it’s treatment.
Next week I will cover how these heartburn drugs increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s! Stay tuned.
Dr. Donald Johnson founded Northwest Treatment Center for Snoring & Sleep Apnea in Coeur d’Alene to help patients stop their snoring and live free with no limits! Obstructive sleep apnea is usually able to be treated with a small oral appliance. Dr. Johnson’s office is at 114 W. Neider Ave., near Costco. The website for more information is www.NWSleepDoc.com and the office phone is (208) 667-4551. Schedule a free consultation appointment today!