Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ditching Nexium...

A few years ago I started getting killer heartburn. I tried all the normal over-the-counter remedies, even tried Prilosec for 60 days straight. As soon as I stopped taking it, wham, the horrible keep-me-up-all-night heartburn was back. It was getting worse.

I finally decided it was time to talk with my doctor. She put me on Prilosec, prescription (not sure if there's a difference) for a month or so. Either they have to go through the 'try-this-first' hoops due to insurance or she didn't believe I'd already done it I suppose. Of course it didn't help. Just as soon as I stopped taking it the heartburn came back with a vengeance. Again, it seemed like it was worse than ever.

She sent me to a specialist who knocked me out and took a look. He said I had acid reflux, my little dooflotchy (lower esophogeal spincter (LES) muscle) that normally stopped acid from coming up the esophagus was weak, not doing its job. He told me I need to take Prilosec. Every day. Forever. Due to changes in my insurance he had to switch me to Nexium after a few months, but both did the job.

I did NOT like having to take a drug. Unlike my norm, I didn't go out and do any research, I just meekly filled my prescription and did away with the heartburn. Pain will do that to you... completely knock out the intelligent questioning part of the brain!

If I forgot to take it one day I knew it before the end of the day. I would end up taking two pills to be able to sleep,

I've been compliantly taking my medicine for almost three years now I guess. Off and on I've wondered how it works but have gotten sidetracked before I hit the computer and forgot to look it up. During that time frame I did a bone scan and discovered I had the beginnings of Osteoporosis, the you're-not-there-yet-but-if-you-don't-take-a-drug-you-will-be kind. I now take a weekly drug to help keep my bones in tip-top shape.

This morning I finally remembered to go look up Nexium. I wanted to bang my head on the desk. Guess what one of the side affects can be? Bone loss. Osteoporosis. Another is vitamin B12 deficiency which can lead to various brain problems. (Hah, now I have an excuse!).

I decided to get off the drug. All it's doing is wiping out 90% of the acid created in my stomach. I didn't go into any great depth as to what that could do to your digestion, but I did see a ton of comments from people who were having difficulties that stopped once they weaned themselves off Nexium (I'm assuming Prilosec is the same).

One of the things commonly noted was the rebound affect -- try to get off and your heartburn problems increase tremendously. All annecdotal, but I did see some links to studies that supposedly supported their assertions.

I'm going to list some suggestions to get off the drug in case you're interested.

  • low carb or no carb / no sugar diet. (I'm already doing that, started about 10 days ago so I suppose my timing in trying to get off Nexium is good.)
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar every day. Mix with water, take straight or mix with honey. (I tried that for weight loss, couldn't handle the taste so hopefully won't need to go that route. It is the most common 'cure' noted though... I guess I could put it on my salads, maybe that would work just as well.)
  • take Nexium for two days, Zantec for one - alternate like that for 2 - 3 weeks. Then go to every other day. Finally after about 2 weeks of that move to Zantec every day for 20 days. (I may try that one. I have no earthly idea why it should work, but it's one of the most common ways I found on the forums I read.)
  • papaya enzyme before ever meal, also one after if that doesn't help. Aids digestion, a good idea if you have any digestive problems in my opinion. (I keep a jar)
  • ginger - the kind you buy at the health food store. Good for digestion. (I'm going to try.)
  • DGL - a type of licorice (Info) (I'm going to pick up some & have just in case.)
  • chewing gum after every meal. Gets the juices going, helps digestion. I'd guess that peppermint would be more helpful than fruity gums, but that's a guess. (My mom always said my siblings and I looked like cows chewing cud when we chewed gum... I am scarred for life, can't chew it except on rare occasions!)
  • don't eat two hours before laying down. (Good idea to help prevent heartburn, acid reflux, something I'm already doing... a bit late in the game as I used to love a late-night snack, but sticking with it now that it hurts if I don't!)
  • eat apples (helps digestion)
  • avoid fried foods
  • loose weight
  • eat smaller portions, frequent meals rather than large meals
  • sleep with the head of your bed slightly raised. It helps to stop the acid from traveling up from your stomach to your esophagus.
  • take probiotics to help with digestion. (already doing sporadically, guess I'll make it a regular thing)
  • D3 supplement (I already take, supposed to help with so many different things, including wrinkle reduction... who knows about things like that, they say it will then years later say it really didn't. Can't hurt as long as I don't overdo it!)
  • cut back or eliminate caffeine. (Not giving up my hot tea, ever.)
  • stop smoking (not an issue for me)
  • baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon for symptoms or take it as a preventative twice a day. (Not me, no way.)
  • surgery if you have loose lower esophogeal spincter (LES) muscle, although some of the above remedies may still help per forums

I'm not a doctor (obviously...) and I can't tell you whether any of the above are good, bad or ugly, or whether they work. I'm getting off the stuff one way or the other. I have the kind that is due to a weak muscle so not sure that any of the above are going to do me any good. We'll see.

I'll try to pop on here off and on and let you know how I'm doing. I didn't take a pill this morning --- may end up taking one tonight to be able to sleep. I just figured I'd see if being on a low-carb, no sugar diet for a couple of weeks did the trick... I don't have my licorice, apples, ginger, Zantec, etc. yet so I don't have anything to allay symptoms. If I end up with bad heartburn tonight I'll wait until I can go to the store before beginning the weaning process!

A few links:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad to join you in the fight. Your suggestions are excellent. Nearly two years later I hope you have succeeded. Osteopenia was the proverbial kick in the hindquarters. I am still on Nexium but planning my escape. Still, I think it prudent to talk to my doctor about it. I'm a little scared because I don't want to become a human volcano and I am not particularly looking forward to giving up everything I like to eat and drink. But whatever it takes.