The acid test - could you do without some tablets?
Byline: Dr Anya Heywood
'M talking tablets today.
ISpecifically, I'm talking about the ones we use for indigestion, stomach ulcers and heartburn.
You may well be taking one of them already, or have done in the past, as these are one of the most common drugs we prescribe.
They've been around for 30 years now and are the magic of (wait for it) lansoprazole, omeprazole, pantoprazole and esomeprazole.
I can actually say these without stumbling too much! I also prescribe them to protect the stomach from other medications which can be a bit harsh on the stomach lining, like anti-inflammatories and steroids.
These drugs are very effective to calm indigestion and heartburn down, but are they safe? We're encouraged again at how use these Most people are fine on these tablets but of course all drugs.
medications do have side effects, and the main immediate one for the 'prazoles is diarrhoea.
How about if you take them for a long time? I saw a lady the other week who told me she'd read they could cause cancer.
This was news to me! I've double checked for you; there's no link between these drugs and cancer. There is however a very small chance of low blood magnesium levels developing while taking these drugs, which corrects itself after stopping the drug.
being to look best to wonder Also, over the long term there's emerging evidence that the 'prazoles can slightly increase the risk of bone fracture and possibly dementia and chronic kidney disease. More studies will make this clearer. So we're being encouraged to look again at how best to use these wonder drugs.
We know that suddenly stopping them can lead to a "rebound" in acid production making symptoms come back with a vengeance! So it seems best to reduce slowly.
It's a fact that many people could get away with a lot less medication than they take.
For example, only taking it when needed is perfectly safe for many people with simple indigestion, or even just taking the usual pharmacy antacids.
You may not be aware that your tablets can be prescribed in a smaller daily dose just to keep the lid on your symptoms.
The older indigestion tablets still have their place too.
And of course, lifestyle changes can make a big difference to indigestion; ease off the alcohol and coffee and eat the right foods at the right time of day. Shall we give the vindaloo a miss?
We're being encouraged to look again at how best to use these wonder drugs.