Are Acid Reflux and Diarrhea Related?
A significant number of people who have acid reflux disease also claim to suffer from frequent IBS or irritable bowel symptoms. But is this coincidence or connection. The answer is there does appear to be a connection. There is at least one affiliation between acid reflux and diarrhea, and there could be more. In this article, we will briefly explore the implication of these connections.
The first of the two connections is a natural one. This could possibly mean that both acid reflux and diarrhea are symptoms of a larger root problem. In this case, the problem is digestion. Medical sources note that acid reflux disease can occur when the intestinal and lower-stomach muscles involuntarily relax. This, also, can lead to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea.
The other link between acid reflux and diarrhea is not naturally occurring, but rather drug related. Several current studies show that drugs taken to alleviate acid reflux are actually helping to cause diarrhea. There are two basic categories for acid reflux medical treatment – protein pump inhibitors (PPI’s) and H-2 blockers. Some common brand name versions of these drugs you may recognize are Prilosec & Nexium for PPI’s, and Zantac and Pepcid for H-2 blockers. Diarrhea has been found to be a side effect of taking both of these drug categories.
Continue reading to find out why these medications can cause diarrhea and what the treatment options are. You can also sign up for the free acid reflux newsletter at the bottom of the page for natural methods of treating acid reflux that won’t cause diarrhea.
H-2 blockers and protein pump inhibitors both have been shown to facilitate the excessive growth of the bacteria Clostridium difficile (C-diff). Excessive amounts of C-diff growing rampant in the large intestine, or colon, are responsible for causing diarrhea. And to make matters worse, antibiotics taken for separate problems (or related) can kill the “good” bacteria that are needed to ward of C-diff in the large intestine.
Colitis, a painful form of cramping intestinal inflammation, can result from too much C-diff. Compounding matters, these infections can spread very easily in populated places such as hospitals and dorms.
Basically, taking drugs to combat acid reflux actually weakens the body’s defenses. The stomach acid in a person’s body is not just for digesting food, but also acts as a barrier to prevent unwanted bugs from entering our bodies. The drugs used to suppress stomach acid can actually weaken this form of defense, allowing access to certain bacteria (like C-diff) that would otherwise not be admitted.
This is also a reason that doctors often recommend more natural methods of fighting acid reflux before resorting to medicine. Some of these methods include losing weight (if applicable), eating smaller meals more frequently, eating less fatty foods, eating less spicy foods, limiting alcohol and smoking, and elevating the head when sleeping. These can often go a long way in controlling acid reflux if followed carefully.
Acid reflux and diarrhea are related, probably in more ways than one. If you haven’t exhausted these possibilities already, you may want to try utilizing some of the lifestyle and diet related treatments listed above. If you’re stuck using the medicinal treatments, then just remember to be aware of infections that can result from a weakened line of defense. And, maintain frequent contact with your physician as a result.