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SIx Things Employees Should Know about Heartburn (Part 2)

Do you know whether heartburn pills are safe for long-term use?

This is another installment in Quizzify’s “Six Things” Greatest Hits, which we are posting from now until Festivus.

The best and safest way to control your heartburn is through altering your diet and lifestyle, as outlined in the previous installment of Six Things Employees Should Know about Heartburn.

However, if you control your heartburn through regular use of Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec or Protonix, be aware that these are very effective drugs specifically because they control stomach acid so well, with no obvious short-term side effects in most cases.

And yet they are probably the riskiest, most misunderstood and most overused drugs currently available without a prescription.

So this installment will take over where the previous one left off. The previous installment (covering the first three of the “Six Things”) covered heartburn prevention. This installment, starting with the fourth “thing,” covers the remedies – specifically the most popular remedy, the PPI. Of us who have experienced it (which is to say, virtually all of us), heartburn — otherwise known as indigestion or acid reflux — seems to be a part of the human condition. We would cite the massive numbers of people — probably a third of the American adult population — who experience this condition at least once a month, but we don’t have to because you, or at least most of the employees in your organization, are likely among them.

4. PPIs should be a last choice, not a first choice — and even then, only for the short term

Your doctor may not mention lifestyle changes or even the generic over-the-counter versions of safer but perhaps less effective remedies like Pepcid and Tums. The fact that PPIs are largely brand names and doctors get “detailed” on them by charismatic drug company salespeople may also influence their choice. Just a little…
As a result – and particularly if you yourself as a patient suggest the “purple pill” or something like it — your doctor might jump right to a prescription or recommendation for an over-the-counter PPI. Some doctors are confident the drug is going to relieve your symptoms posthaste.
With this in mind, you should:
  • Ask about effective non-drug or OTC drug options to control your heartburn.
  • Ask about the potential long-term harms of PPIs.
  • Ask about an end date: if you have simple heartburn and you are started on a PPI, it should never be for more than 8 weeks, after which you should be reassessed, or reduce the use of your PPI to an “as needed” intermittent basis.


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