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Pneumonia In Elderly Linked To Heartburn And Stomach Acid Drugs

A new study revealed that in older adults, there is an increased intake of prescribed drugs to neutralize the stomach acid and heartburn issues, which eventually could increase their risk of pneumonia [1] .

Approximately, around 40 percent of older adults receive proton-pump inhibitors. According to some experts, up to 85 percent of people who receive proton-pump inhibitors may not actually need them.

And this new study showed that there was a higher rate of pneumonia in the elderly people who received proton-pump inhibitors over a two-year period.

"Caution is needed in interpreting the findings as our study is based on analyzing data from medical records, so other factors may be involved. However, our study adds to growing evidence that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are not quite as safe as previously thought, although they are still a very useful class of medication for certain groups of patients," said David Melzer, Professor at Britain's University of Exeter.

Read on to know some of the other factors that can cause heartburn and stomach acid issues.

What Causes Heartburn Every Day?

Many people suffer with heartburn every day, which indicates an underlying health disorder or unhealthy dietary habit. Heartburn usually results from stomach acid that gets into the oesophagus and throat, causing a burning sensation in the chest or a bitter taste in the throat.

Have a look at some of the causes of heartburn:

1. Acid Reflux Disease [2]

According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing house, acid reflux disease stems from a weakened muscle valve in the oesophagus, known as the lower oesophageal sphincter. Gastroesophageal reflux disease results from a permanently damaged lower oesophageal sphincter. This oesophageal sphincter doesn't close tightly enough to prevent the acid reflux and subsequently causes chronic heartburn.

2. Stomach Disorders

Frequent heartburn may include gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach lining. Chronic heartburn is often the result of a peptic ulcer, an erosion of the lining in the digestive tract, which is caused by excess secretion of the stomach acid. Heartburn may also occur often in people with a hiatal hernia, which causes the upper part of the stomach to push upward into the chest.

3. Unhealthy Diet

Another cause of having heartburn every day is overeating, eating too fast, obesity and being overweight. People who experience heartburn every day may need to change their diet, which includes how they eat and what they eat. Eating smaller meals can help prevent heartburn; fatty or spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomato-based products and onions are among the foods that can cause heartburn too.

Excessive caffeine intake, carbonated drinks and alcohol may also trigger frequent heartburn.

What Causes Stomach Acidity? [3]

Excessive stomach acid can lead to an upset stomach, indigestion, abdominal pain, and bloating. When the stomach produces too much acid, it causes heartburn. Both are interlinked with each other.

Changing your diet or lifestyle can help reduce excess stomach acid.

1. Milk

Though milk is known to bring relief from heartburn caused by stomach acid, drinking too much of milk causes your stomach to increase its acid production and eventually worsen your symptoms. Cow's milk may relax the lower oesophageal sphincter, which can cause or worsen acid reflux symptoms. You can drink plain water instead.

2. Obesity

Being overweight or obese is another cause of stomach acid. How? Excess weight on the abdomen increases the risk of acid reflux symptoms. Losing those pounds would be the solution and also pregnancy may cause temporary acid indigestion symptoms too.

3. Caffeine

Caffeine present in tea and coffee can adversely affect the lining of your stomach and intestines. People who drink a lot of coffee over an extended period may worsen any existing conditions they may have. In addition, it can lead to gastritis and ulcers as well. Coffee acts as a laxative, which stimulates your intestines to empty. So, drink coffee and tea in moderate amounts.

4. Smoking

Smoking can also cause stomach acid due to the tobacco present in it. While smoking, your mouth is making less saliva, which might mean more heartburn symptoms. Cigarettes make it harder for your body to make a substance that helps guard yourself from the stomach acid. Also, chewing tobacco could cause stomach acidity and heartburn.

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View Article References
  1. [1] Jan Zirk-Sadowski, Jane A. Masoli, Joao Delgado, Willie Hamilton, W. David Strain, William Henley, David Melzer, Alessandro Ble. Proton-Pump Inhibitors and Long-Term Risk of Community-Acquired Pneumonia in Older Adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2018
  2. [2] Liu, S., Xu, M., Yang, J., Qi, H., He, F., Zhao, X., … Ming, D. (2017). Research on Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Based on Dynamic Features of Ambulatory 24-Hour Esophageal pH Monitoring. Computational and mathematical methods in medicine, 2017, 9239074.
  3. [3] Beasley, D. E., Koltz, A. M., Lambert, J. E., Fierer, N., & Dunn, R. R. (2015). The evolution of stomach acidity and its relevance to the human microbiome. PloS one, 10(7), e0134116.
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