Heartburn Medication Linked to Dementia in Seniors

You're looking forward to the big meal planned with family and friends. When it's time to eat, you dish up a hearty portion and enjoy every bite. But not long after pushing your plate away, you get that uncomfortable burning feeling beginning in your stomach and rising up into your chest. It's heartburn, also known as gastroesphageal reflux disease.

In the United States, about 60 percent of all adults experience heart burn at least once a year. But it can be a more serious, and recurring problem for others that requires medication. One of the most common drugs used to treat acid reflux disease helps control heartburn with proton pump inhibitors. You also know this drug by brand names like Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid.

But before you reach for the purple pill, new research suggests you might want to try an alternative to relieve heartburn symptoms. A recent study published in JAMA Neurology found proton pump inhibitors could be dangerous for seniors, age 75 and older. They found that older seniors who took proton pump inhibitors were 44 percent more likely to develop dementia and age-related memory loss than those who didn't take the medication. Taking the medication daily for an extended period of time increased the risk.

Medication is certainly one option to control acid reflux disease. But it's not the only option. In fact, making smarter choices about the food you eat can help. If you're prone to experiencing heartburn, take a closer look at your diet. You should avoid acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, pineapple, tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa, chili, pizza, and any other foods that contain one or more of these ingredients.

That might eliminate some foods from your diet, but there are still many healthy and delicious options that are less likely to cause indigestion. Check out the Senior Special Diet menu for healthy meals made from fresh ingredients like Grilled Chicken over Rice & Gravy with Carrots & Peas, Zesty Orange Chicken Tenders, Corn and Pepper Medley, and many others.

Getting a handle on eating the right foods can be your first defense to help control heartburn and indigestion. If you still experience heartburn after improving your diet, talk to you doctor about other lifestyle strategies that may help, or ask about alternative medications.