With an estimated 15 million Americans taking prescription proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), there’s a good chance you or someone you know uses this class of heartburn medications. Unfortunately, those meds might be doing some serious harm along with the good. A German study linked popular heartburn medications like Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid with an increased risk for dementia.

Heartburn medications and dementia

The research, published in JAMA Neurology, gathered a major German health insurance firm’s data on 74,000 seniors 75 and older between 2004 and 2011. An evaluation of the data found that the seniors using PPIs had a 44 percent increased risk of dementia compared with those not using the medication. Although they weren’t able to prove a direct cause and effect, the link is still startling enough to make you really consider your heartburn meds. This isn’t the only health danger PPIs have been linked to; they also have been associated with a 20 to 50 percent increased risk for chronic kidney disease.

It’s estimated that 25 percent of regular, long-term heartburn medication users could stop taking medication without suffering from an increased heartburn problem. That is a lot of people who could potentially be preventing dementia and kidney disease.

Natural heartburn remedies

For some, it might work to stop taking medication and opt for natural ways to prevent and treat heartburn. Heartburn happens when the contents of your stomach start creeping back up into your esophagus. The acid in your stomach burns your tissue and causes that uncomfortable, fiery feeling.
Prevent:
• Avoid trigger foods like spicy foods, high-fat foods, caffeine, and citrus fruits and juices
• Stop eating two to three hours before bedtime
• Don’t lie down immediately after eating
• Eat five or six small meals a day instead of three large meals
• Include fiber in your meals to keep your digestive tract moving

Treat:
• If you are lying down, stand up!
• While sleeping, elevate yourself from the waist up using a wedge pillow or something slid under your mattress
• Chew sugar-free gum after eating. It stimulates saliva production and helps push acids out of your esophagus.
• Dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink slowly
If you are worried about your heartburn medication causing problems for you, talk to your doctor about trying some natural methods and see if those work for you instead.

How do you treat your heartburn? Share with the community in the comments below.