The old adage “less is more” rings true for women who take heartburn medications like Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid. A recent study by Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that most women can tolerate lower doses of these medications while experiencing the same reflux-fighting benefits, which reduces their risk of long-term side effects.

The study involved 100 participants, approximately half male and half female. All participants had been diagnosed with erosive esophagitis and were on long-term therapy with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). Researchers had half the participants reduce their PPI dose for a period of eight weeks, and had the other half continue to take their regular dose. In addition, the researchers measured gastrin levels before and after treatment.

The results had shown that females had overall higher levels of gastrin than males. However, women were three times more likely to tolerate half their normal PPI dose compared to men.

PPIs are among the highest-selling classes of drugs in the United States, but recent studies have linked these drugs to serious complications with long-term use. In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warnings about the increased risk of fractures associated with PPI therapy. Additional evidence shows that PPI users may be at increased risk of kidney disease, dementia, heart attack, and nutrient deficiency. Higher PPI dosage is linked to a greater risk of side effects (Source: The Legal Examiner).

How to Reduce Need for Heartburn Medication

While the results of this study only show successful step-down treatment for women, most patients can naturally reduce their need for heartburn medication through lifestyle and dietary modifications. These include:

  • Losing excess weight
  • Eating smaller portions
  • Avoiding heartburn triggers like alcohol, caffeine and fried or spicy foods
  • Finishing meals 2 to 3 hours before lying down
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothing
  • Giving up smoking
  • Elevating the head of your bed when sleeping

“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” If this sounds like your digestive system on Halloween night, you’re not alone. Many of our favorite Halloween treats are high in fat or contain common heartburn triggers. This makes them a source of pain as well as discomfort for acid reflux sufferers.

Everyone loves a good spine-tingling surprise on Halloween night. But this shouldn’t include an evening full of acid indigestion. Understanding which types of candy are likely to cause heartburn – and which ones aren’t – can be the key to helping you satisfy your Halloween sweet tooth without an episode of reflux.

Treats that are unlikely to cause heartburn:

  • Candy corn – These colorful bite-sized candies are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth without aggravating heartburn.
  • Gummy bears – Fun, fruity and colorful, gummy bears are the perfect fat-free treat for reflux sufferers.
  • Chewing gum – Gum stimulates saliva production to help wash acid out of the esophagus. Try chewing a stick or two if heartburn strikes.
  • Sour gummies – The sour flavoring in these fat-free candies can actually curb heartburn!

Tricks that may trigger acid reflux:

  • Peppermint – Peppermint is a common heartburn trigger because it weakens the lower esophageal sphincter. Avoid peppermint hard candies and chocolate covered patties.
  • Starburst – Acidic ingredients in these chewy, fruit-flavored squares make them problematic for heartburn sufferers.
  • Chocolate – Chocolate is known to trigger heartburn, so avoid those foil-wrapped kisses and chocolate covered candy bars.
  • Peanut butter cups – The high fat content and chocolate covering in peanut butter cups can mean double trouble for refluxers.

Halloween can be one of the most enjoyable nights of the year, even for heartburn sufferers! But, be sure to choose your treats wisely and avoid overeating, another common cause of reflux. Making smart choices on Halloween night will allow you to enjoy an evening full of ghoulish good fun without the scary digestive symptoms!