Friday, March 11, 2011

Getting off Nexium / Prilosec

I wrote about this on another of my blogs, but thought it was worth sharing on this one, too.

A number of years ago I started having heartburn. Bad heartburn. I worked with my doctor, tried the 30-day, then 60-day route of taking Prilosec. Finally ended up at a specialist, got knocked out and had him look down my throat, esophagus and into the ol' tummy. Acid reflux, told I'd be on Prilosec or similar for the rest of my life.

Normally, I do some research and never take a doctor at his word. Sure, they do great things, glad we have them, but they don't usually think about the natural route. They don't talk diet, exercise, herbs and vitamins.

This time, I just compliantly started taking the pills. The pain stopped, I was happy.

Until recently.

I was at a show and got into a conversation with someone who told me I needed to get off the pills. I came home and did some research. Sure enough, it turns out that being on those little purple pills can cause some health problems. It seems it leeches calcium out of your system, ditto on B12 (and probably other B vitamins).

I am the first person in my family to ever experience bone density issues. I attribute it to the Nexium. I can't say without a doubt that they correlate, but it just seems weird that I started one and then had problems with the other.

I decided to try and get off the stuff. It's not easy. I've done some reading and am doing a lot of things to help. My diet is helping. I raised the head of my bed. I don't eat after 6 or so. I take ginger with each meal. I bought over-the-counter Zantec type stuff (low dose) for those times when the heartburn happens.

I'm doing so-so. I can go for days without a problem, then have one. I didn't have the rebound affect the second time I tried to get off for some reason. Maybe because I'd been doing all the stuff I mentioned for a bit before attempting to quit the second time.

I am concerned about esophageal cancer. That's a potential when you have untreated acid reflux. I talked to my doctor about getting off Nexium and she said to go for it. The problem is she's a new doc and I'm not really sure she read my history or knows the results of the test the specialist did. I'm thinking about calling him for a consult. Chances are he'll say 'take the drugs'... after he makes me come in for a follow-up. Thank goodness I have really good insurance!

I understand that the way Nexium, Prilosec, Zantec and related drugs work is that they suppress 90% of the acid in your stomach. It seems, and has been confirmed by my reading, that killing the acid can't be good for your digestion.

I am finding that I have a little bit of constant burning. I'm not liking that. I read that they little flap in the esophagus that gets flabby is the cause of acid reflux. It gets weak, doesn't keep the acid in the tummy. I also read that it is the part of your body that can repair itself the best, the easiest. I would have thought that after years of Nexium that it would have repaired itself if it could.

Ah well, I'll continue on and see what happens. My doc said to take over-the-counter for two weeks, then get off completely. I read that you should alternate prescription and over-the-counter, decreasing the prescription until straight over-the-counter... then quit.

So, was curious to see if anyone out there had any tips, thoughts or wanted to share their attempts and / or successes in getting off similar drugs.

1 comment:

  1. I am trying to get off of the pills myself right now for the same reasons. Avoiding carbohydrates and taking digestive enzymes to fully digest food correctly seems to help. Eating very much of anything processed just makes the acid reflux unbearable.

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