Are there side effects to treatments for GERD and heartburn?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Though most methods of treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and heartburn are safe, there are a few potential side effects that you should discuss with your doctor. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about a possible increased risk of bone fractures in people who take certain drugs that are used to treat GERD and heartburn. The FDA warns that some studies have found an increased risk of hip, wrist, and spine fractures in people who take over-the-counter or prescription proton pump inhibitors. These are medications that block stomach acid production. The brand names include Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, Dexilant, Zegerid, Protonix, Aciphex, and Vimovo. The greatest risk of fractures was found in people over 50 years of age who took high doses or took the medication for over a year. As with any surgery, there are also potential side effects associated with the types of surgery that are sometimes used to treat severe cases of GERD. Difficulty swallowing and abdominal discomfort after meals has been reported in some people after esophageal surgery.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.