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How Can I Avoid Acid Reflux When Taking Medicine?

Any medication has side effects, and sometimes you might resort to alternative medications to alleviate particular side effects, but in some cases you may not have a choice but to take a drug that will exacerbate your acid reflux. Many of the medications mentioned earlier are necessary to treat medical conditions, and the side effects that come along with them may be unavoidable. However, even if the side effects are present, you may be able to take precautions to decrease their severity. It is important to remember that if a medication has side effects, there may be an alternate way to take the medication or there may be an alternative drug to use for the same condition. The disease should always be worse than the cure! It is important to read the labels on medications, and if you have questions or problems with side effects, you should discuss them with your pharmacist. If the problems are beyond the control of the pharmacist, you should contact the doctor who prescribed the medications to check into possible alternatives.

It is important to take medications as directed. Many medications are specified to be taken with food to limit side effects. However, some need to be taken hours before or after eating because foods can interfere with drug absorption and action. The most important thing you can do is read the label.

Remember that the longer these medications are in contact with the esophagus or stomach lining, the more damage they potentially can do. Once you put them in your mouth and swallow, it is important to use gravity to your advantage. Medications known to irritate the esophagus should be taken while you are sitting or standing up. Once you have taken the pill, it is important that you do not immediately lie down. By lying down, you put the stomach at the same level or above the level of the esophagus, which can allow the pill and even the stomach acid to reflux into the esophagus.

It is very important to take enough water with medications. Water helps move the pills from the esophagus to the stomach by lubricating the esophagus so as to provide a slippery surface for the pills to easily pass down the esophagus and avoid damaging the lining. Commonly, people take medications dry or with a tiny sip of water, and then go to sleep for the night. This increases the chances the pill will stick in the esophagus all night, causing damage. When we do an endoscopy test, we commonly find a problem called a pill ulcer. Classically, this is caused when you take an aspirin or ibuprofen at bedtime without drinking enough water. The pill then sits in your esophagus all night, burning a hole in the lining, which results in an ulcer. Pill ulcers cause severe pain when you swallow. Thankfully, these are easily avoided and generally heal after a few days.

Finally, it is important to note whether the medication has a protective coating that may help avoid damage to your esophagus and your stomach. If this is the case, do not chew the pills. These protective coatings (sometimes called enteric coating) can allow the pill to pass through the esophagus and stomach, hopefully doing as little damage as possible, before it is digested in the small intestine.

By using all these measures, you can avoid the major problems related to reflux caused by medications. However, this is not a guarantee that you will avoid side effects. If you have questions or problems, contact your pharmacist or doctor.

By Mortin - Copyright 2009
Last modification 31/12/2009

How Can I Avoid Acid Reflux When Taking Medicine? References