Our gastrointestinal system is not just about the taste of food and filling our tummies. It is a hollow tube starting at the mouth and ending in the very rear with the last orifice or what is commonly referred to as the last hole. Even though we do not sit to ponder how involved this system is, if it is not working properly you are going to feel it. The ultimate function of our gastrointestinal system is to supply our cells with the necessary nutrients and provide us with energy necessary for vital and not so vital functions. It is my experience that heartburn and abdominal upset are quite a common occurrence in our society throughout all age groups. So, how can we make this system work more efficiently and avoid all the pain and upset? Let’s start with our diet first. There are a great deal of foods that are very heavy on the digestive system. Generally speaking overly greasy, spicy, and dairy foods can upset the most calm gut. Add alcohol, cigarettes along with other chemicals (many times the medicines that are supposed to cure you), and you have an angry painful gastrointestinal system. The most important way to approach this situation is by avoiding the items we already mentioned which basically insult your gut. One of the most common ailments is excessive acid production or acid from the stomach which can creep up outside the stomach into the esophagus, it is commonly referred to as heartburn or gastro esophageal reflux. There are a variety of medications for these conditions. Some are over the counter and others are prescription only. If one just needs instant relief for the occasional heartburn one may consider neutralizing salts as calcium carbonate found in Tums. If heartburn is more of a chronic condition and an ulcer is not present as determined by the gastro intestinal specialist, then there are other classes of drugs which will alleviate the condition. Among these are the aluminum hydroxide group known as Maalox or Mylanta which can be taken in 30 ml quantities with meals and at bedtime for short acting relief. Proton Pump inhibitors block gastric acid secretion, are long acting and are usually taken once a day. The most common adverse effects are abdominal pain, constipation and headache. Other adverse effects involve malabsorption specifically calcium which is thought to be the cause of an increase in hip fractures for individuals over 50. Most common in this class are: Prilosec (omeprazole) 20-40 mg daily. Lansoprazole 15-30 mg daily (Prevacid). Rabeprazole 20 mg daily (Aciphex). Pantoprazole 40 mg daily (Protonix). Esomeprazole 20-40 mg daily (Nexium). There are other alternatives as H2 receptor antagonist which suppress acid production through another mechanism. These are generally sold over the counter in lower doses than prescriptions and are generally taken twice a day. It includes Ranitidine 150 mg twice a day (Zantac). Nizatidine 150 mg twice a day (Axid). Famotidine 20 mg twice a day (Pepcip). Cimetidine 400 mg twice a day (Tagamet). Always remember that your lifestyle changes are more important and the medications are there to help you, but use with caution and specially don’t abuse.
Mcgraw- Hills Naplex Review Guide was the source for most of this information.