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Gastrointestinal ailments such as heartburn and acid reflux seem so common nowadays most people are familiar with medications such as Prilosec and Nexium. Some individuals have become so dependent on these drugs they take daily dosages in order to cope with the chronic discomfort. But as popular as they are, these drugs classified as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), have been linked to serious health conditions and even death.

PPIs are beneficial because they are potent and very effective in reducing acid in the stomach. What makes these some of the most over-used drugs in the market is that they are readily available over-the-counter and offer quick relief for conditions such as heartburn and indigestion.

An estimated 15 million Americans take PPIs every year either by prescription or over-the-counter. Unfortunately, taking these drugs regularly can put you at a higher risk for dementia, osteoporotic fractures, kidney failure, infection, nutritional deficiencies and early death, according to several recent studies. The risk is created not only by the over use of PPIs but also due to interaction with other drugs.

The situation is so alarming the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has launched a stewardship program aimed at decreasing unnecessary use of PPIs. VA doctors are being very cautious when prescribing PPIs and are removing patients from PPI therapy when there is no clear purpose for their use and patients can tolerate discontinuation.

The Food and Drug Administration recommends patients take over-the-counter PPIs for no more than 14 days. No more than three 14-day treatment courses should be used in one year.

If you are suffering from a stomach-acid related condition, there are other alternatives to deal with the problem. Changes in lifestyle and better nutrition are a good start but it is important that you work with a qualified practitioner who can guide you in the right direction. Your condition may require the use of medication or medical grade nutraceuticals and only a professional can dictate what the lowest effective dosage will be as well as assessing the risks vs. benefits of the drug use.

As a functional medicine practice, Bellissimo Medical offers patient advice on how to restore health and balance through proper nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle changes. We do not simply prescribe medication to put a patch on the injury; we do look at family history and underlying causes of conditions. Finding the root of the problem is the only way to effectively treat ailments—simple changes such as eating wholesome foods, having more frequent, smaller meals, taking the right medical grade nutraceutical and cutting back on alcohol may make all the difference in the world.

Call us today and schedule your free consultation at 954.384.8989.   Dr. Jean-Claude Nerette is Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Functional Medicine and Stephanie Muniz Nerette is a Board Certified Nurse Practitioner and a Diplomate to the Board of Anti-Aging Medicine. Bellissimo Medical is located at 2665 Executive Park Drive, Suite #3, in Weston.

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