How treating acid reflux can bring on diabetes

Dealing with the belching, burning, nausea and chest pain caused by acid reflux is no fun. So, many people take medication to help relieve these symptoms.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are one popular and effective class of drugs used to treat acid reflux, peptic ulcers and indigestion. One of the 10 most commonly used medications worldwide, PPIs reduce acid production by blocking the enzyme in the stomach wall that produces acid.

Unfortunately, taking PPIs over long periods of time can cause more problems than it solves. Long-term PPI use has been connected with bone fractures, chronic kidney disease, gut infections and stomach cancer, among other disorders.

Now researchers have discovered another disease that can be brought on by lengthy use of PPIs…

The impact of PPIs on diabetes risk

A study published online in the journal Gut has connected regular use of PPIs to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, with the risk increasing the longer PPIs are used.

The researchers surveyed over 200,000 participants in three long-term health screening studies to determine which of them used PPIs regularly (two or more times a week). During the average tracking period of 9-12 years across all three groups, 10,105 participants were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

After considering potentially influencing factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, physical activity and use of other medication, the study found those who regularly used PPIs were 24 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t.

And the longer PPIs were taken, the greater the risk of developing diabetes. Use for up to two years brought a 5 percent increased risk, while use for more than two years was associated with a 26 percent increased risk. As patients stopped taking the PPIs, their diabetes risk fell as time went on.

Upon further analysis, the researchers saw diabetes risk among PPI users wasn’t affected by sex, age, family history of diabetes, smoking, alcohol use, diet, physical activity, high cholesterol or regular use of anti-inflammatory drugs. Interestingly, the risk was higher among participants who weren’t overweight or who had normal blood pressure.

Comparing PPIs and H2 blockers

To compare, the researchers also looked at the potential impact of another class of acid reflux drugs, H2 blockers. Regular use of H2 blockers was connected with a 14 percent increased risk of diabetes, and the risk increased the longer the drugs were used.

Because of these results, the study researchers are advising people taking PPIs for two or more years to have regular blood glucose screenings for diabetes. They are also recommending that doctors carefully weigh the positives and negatives of prescribing PPIs.

Evidence suggests that changes in the type and volume of bacteria in the gut could explain the connection between PPI use and the increased risk of developing diabetes. Also, by stopping acid production, PPIs make it harder for the body to absorb nutrients.

There’s no question that acid reflux needs to be treated. Chronic acid reflux can lead to inflammation and bleeding of the esophagus; development of scar tissue that narrows the esophagus and makes it difficult to swallow; and Barrett’s esophagus, which can develop into esophageal cancer.

Rather than taking PPIs, you may want to look into these natural ways to relieve the discomfort of acid reflux…

Natural reflux relief

The most straightforward way to treat acid reflux is to make certain lifestyle changes that will help ease your stomach’s overproduction of acid. Quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol and eating meals lower in fat can all help, as can losing weight and eating smaller meals. Also, try not to eat right before bed.

Taking apple cider vinegar can bring mixed results. It’s extremely effective for some sufferers, but it worsens reflux symptoms for others. Try mixing about a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with water and swallowing it to help reduce the acidity level in the stomach.

Since baking soda is a base substance, it can neutralize stomach acid. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with 8 ounces of water and drink it. Repeat as needed, but don’t exceed seven doses in one day. And avoid using this remedy for more than a week because of its high salt content and its potential for causing nausea or swelling.

Some people with acid reflux can get relief by chewing sugar-free gum for a half-hour after they eat. Chewing gum increases saliva, which helps to wash away any acid.

Another way to balance the acidity levels in your stomach is by drinking chamomile tea. Drink a cup of chamomile tea 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime to relieve reflux symptoms and reduce stress levels, which also contribute to heartburn.

Ginger tea is another delicious drink that’s great for many stomach ailments, including reflux. To get its full flavor, simmer some slices of raw ginger root in water for 30 minutes. Drink the tea before a meal to maximize its benefits.

Sources:

Regular use of acid reflux drugs linked to heightened risk of type 2 diabetes — BMJ

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) — MedicineNet

Adverse Effects of Proton Pump Inhibitors—Evidence and Plausibility — International Journal of Molecular Sciences

The Short & Long Term Effects Of Gerd — GI Alliance

Home Remedies For Heartburn (And When You Need A Doctor) — Franciscan Health

7 Natural GERD Home Remedy Solutions — Fisher Titus

Carolyn Gretton

By Carolyn Gretton

Carolyn Gretton is a freelance writer based in New Haven, CT who specializes in all aspects of health and wellness and is passionate about discovering the latest health breakthroughs and sharing them with others. She has worked with a wide range of companies in the alternative health space and has written for online and print publications like Dow Jones Newswires and the Philadelphia Inquirer.