New study reveals heartburn medication could have long-lasting side effects

Millions of people in the UK are taking this common heartburn medication, but a new study found it could increase their risk of developing dementia and suffering from 'agonising migraines'.

people heartburn medication suffer agonising migraines dementia
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people heartburn medication suffer agonising migraines dementia

As humans, we often take medication when we suffer from anything ranging from a common cold to actual chronic pain. We all know certain drugs can have more or less serious side effects, and it is a risk we all take. However, a new study found a link between a commonly prescribed medication and horrendous, long-lasting side effects.

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A US study discovered the link

As reported by the American Academy of Neurology, a new study found that certain heartburn drugs could lead to debilitating migraines and early dementia. These medications include omeprazole, esomeprazole, cimetidine, famotidine and antacid supplements. Heartburn is a burning feeling in your chest, caused by stomach acid travelling up your throat instead of going down. It can be uncomfortable or painful, and can sometimes be mistaken for a heart attack.

According to the NHS, about a third of people in the UK suffer from acid reflux, also known as heartburn, and around 70 million of the infamous medication are prescribed each year. Researchers from the University of Maryland indicate that this drug is often 'overprescribed' and could have life-altering effects. Indeed, they found that it can cause terrible migraines, mild headaches, and early on-set dementia.

Common drugs in the UK

Dr Margaret Slavin, from the University of Maryland, explains:

Given the wide usage of acid-reducing drugs and these potential implications with migraine, these results warrant further investigation.
These drugs are often considered to be overprescribed, and new research has shown other risks tied to long-term use of proton pump inhibitors, such as an increased risk of dementia.

The most common heartburn drugs concerned by the study are Prilosec, Losec, and Nexium. The study, published in Neurology Clinical Practice, focused on the drugs' effect on migraines in particular. Researchers analyzed over 11,800 patients. They found that a quarter of those who took heartburn medication suffered from head-splitting migraines and headaches, while only 19% of those who did not take the medication suffered from the same afflictions.

Dr Margaret Slavin took the time to explain that these medications, although they can cause painful migraines, are sometimes necessary for patients and need to be discussed with a GP if there is any doubt. She told the American Academy of Neurology:

It’s important to note that many people do need acid-reducing medications to manage acid reflux or other conditions. People with migraine or severe headache who are taking these drugs or supplements should talk with their doctors about whether they should continue.

Read more:

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Sources used:

Express: Common heartburn drugs taken by millions 'increase the risk of agonising migraines'


Neurology Clinical Practice: Use of Acid-Suppression Therapy and Odds of Migraine and Severe Headache in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

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