About 20 percent of Americans--or one in five of us--has heartburn serious enough to warrant frequent drugstore runs to get some over-the-counter relief. But some sufferers of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)--the medical term for heartburn--antacids aren't strong enough. In that case, doctors go for a heavier duty approach: proton pump inhibitors (or PPIs) like Nexium.
RELATED: These Common Anti-Heartburn Drugs May Have SERIOUS Long-Term Side Effects--and May Not Even Keep Your Heartburn Away
This may change in the near future, thanks to a discovery made by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Until now, doctors believed that stomach acids backing up through the lining of your esophagus was causing the damage, similar to chemical burns. Instead, the damage is caused by inflammation, specifically through proteins called cytokines.
For now, treatment won't change. But researchers hope their discovery leads to targeted treatments that can block the cytokines and reverse the inflammation in the near future. And that's a good thing. Taking PPIs for longer than the recommended two to eight weeks can lead to serious side effects, including heart disease and dementia.
via UT Southwestern Medical Center
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