Individuals who suffer from conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) have the option of taking antacids, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), or H2 blockers. While antacids are useful for quick relief, they won’t do anything to prevent GERD. If you consult your doctor about this issue, it’s likely they’ll start by putting you on an H2 blocker. If that doesn’t work, you may be switched to a PPI.
With the recent reports of Zantac containing cancer-causing levels of NDMA, it’s understandable for heartburn medication users to have concerns about their future and health. With afflicted individuals filing Zantac cancer lawsuits, it’s important to understand the dangers associated with Zantac and other heartburn medications.
H2 Blockers vs. Proton Pump Inhibitors
H2 blockers are short-term preventative medications that decrease stomach acid. They work by blocking the body’s histamine from stimulating the stomach to produce acid. Zantac, being a form of ranitidine, is an H2 blocker. Pepcid (famotidine) and Tagamet (cimetidine) are also H2 blockers. This type of medicine is only good for short-term use, and works best when accompanied by diet and lifestyle changes. As the stomach adjusts to this type of medication, it becomes less effective. This typically happens after two to six weeks.
When H2 blockers don’t work, your doctor might suggest a PPI. Common PPIs include Prilosec (omeprazole), Protonix (pantoprazole), and Nexium (esomeprazole). PPIs reduce the production of acid by blocking the enzyme in the stomach wall that produces acid.
While the most recent lawsuits regarding heartburn medications have revolved around cancer and Zantac, some research from the Washing University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests PPIs are just as dangerous. A study that included more than 200,000 U.S. veterans concluded people who use heartburn medicines for months or years are more likely to die from heart disease, kidney failure, or stomach cancer.
Side Effects of Heartburn Medications
PPIs are typically more well-tolerated by the body. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, rash, and dizziness. If you experience nervousness, abnormal heartbeat, muscle pain, weakness or leg cramps, it’s important to see medical attention right away.
The side effects of H2 blockers like Zantac are similar, including diarrhea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, muscle pain, and insomnia. More rare and serious complications include anemia, confusion, depression, easy bruising, rash, and hair loss.
Any time you experience unwelcome or unpredicted side effects from a heartburn medication, whether it’s prescribed or over-the-counter, it’s important to be evaluated by a medical professional to ensure you don’t have any bigger medical issues to deal with.
Effectively and Safely Managing Heartburn
Always discuss changing or stopping any medication with your physician. They’ll be able to offer you the best recommendation for your health and wellbeing. In addition to adjusting, changing, or stopping your medication, they may also recommend some lifestyle changes.
According to Harvard Medical School, there are a number of steps you can take to control symptoms of repeated episodes of heartburn and GERD, including the following:
- Avoid carbonated beverages. Carbonated beverages, like soda or sparkling water, make you burp. This sends acid into the esophagus.
- Eat slowly. When the stomach is very full, more reflux can enter into the esophagus. It’s better to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day, as opposed to three large meals daily.
- Sleep on an incline. Sleeping flat encourages acid traveling to your esophagus. It’s best to sleep with your head six to eight inches higher than your feet. This is achievable with bed risers or foam wedges. Creating a wedge by stacking pillows, however, won’t provide your neck with the support it needs.
- Avoid certain foods. While you don’t need to eat a bland diet to avoid heartburn, there are some foods that are more likely to trigger reflux. Examples include mint, spicy or fatty foods, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coffee, chocolate, tea, and alcohol. If you eat any of those foods regularly, you could try eliminating them for a time and seeing how your body reacts when you add them back into your diet.
- Quit smoking. Nicotine relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, which encourages acid into the esophagus.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and you believe it’s related to Zantac, you may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. A cancer diagnosis often means serious physical and mental strain, in addition to extensive medical bills. If a negligent manufacturer contributed in anyway to the development of your disease, they should be held accountable for their actions.
At Thomas Law Offices, we strive to help those who have been wronged. With our representation, you’ll maximize your chances of receiving the compensation you need to pay for treatments and get your life back in order. To learn more about taking legal action, contact our office today.