Gastric Acid Reflux Drugs Causing Memory Loss? | New Study Report

In Gastric Acid Reflux, the acid from the stomach flows into the esophagus. The Newly published research paper in the Medical Journal of AAN (American Academy of Neurology) shows that the risk of memory loss (Dementia) increases in people taking PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors) for more than 4.5 years.

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The New study demonstrates the strong relationship between the use of these medications and Dementia but doesn’t mention them as a cause of Dementia.

What Is Gastric Acid Reflux (GERD)?


GERD (Gastric Acid Reflux) stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Acidity or Hyperacidity are also  common alternate terms used by public.  It's a chronic digestive disorder characterized by the recurring backflow of stomach acid and sometimes stomach contents into the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. This backflow, known as acid reflux, can cause irritation and inflammation of the lining of the esophagus, leading to various symptoms and potential complications. Common symptoms of GERD include heartburn (a burning sensation in the chest), regurgitation (the sensation of acid or food coming back up into the throat), chest pain, difficulty swallowing, and a persistent cough. These symptoms often occur after eating, especially large meals, and can worsen when lying down or bending over.

What’s the exact problem?

Gastric Acid Reflux is typically caused by a weakening or dysfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle that acts as a valve between the stomach and the esophagus. When the LES doesn’t close properly, stomach acid can flow back into the esophagus, leading to the symptoms associated with GERD.

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Gastric Acid Reflux (GERD) can manifest with a range of symptoms that vary in severity and frequency. The most common symptoms include:

  • Heartburn: A burning sensation in the chest, often occurring after eating or when lying down. It’s a hallmark symptom of GERD.
  • Regurgitation: Backflow of stomach contents into the esophagus and mouth.
  • Chest Pain: GERD-related chest pain may resemble heart-related chest pain (angina), leading to confusion. It’s usually a sharp, burning pain that can radiate to the neck, back, or arms.
  • Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia): Narrowing of the esophagus due to inflammation or scarring can make swallowing painful or challenging.
  • Chronic Cough: Prolonged and recurrent cough may be due to gastric acid reflux.
  • Hoarseness or Sore Throat: Repeated exposure of the throat to stomach acid can lead to irritation, resulting in a hoarse voice or sore throat.
  • Asthma or Breathing Problems: Some people with GERD experience worsened asthma symptoms or difficulty breathing due to stomach acid irritating the airways.
  • Laryngitis: Inflammation of the voice box (larynx) can cause a raspy or strained voice.
  • Excessive Salivation: Increased production of saliva, also known as water brash, can occur in response to acid reflux.
  • Feeling of a Lump in the Throat: This sensation, known as the Globus sensation, can result from irritation caused by acid reflux.
  • Nausea or Vomiting: Some individuals with GERD may experience nausea or even vomiting, particularly when reflux is severe.
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It’s important to note that while these symptoms are common in GERD, they can also be caused by other conditions. If you experience persistent or severe symptoms, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis and appropriate management. Untreated or poorly managed GERD can lead to complications, so timely medical attention is crucial.


While occasional gastric acid reflux is common and can be managed with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications, gastric acid reflux is diagnosed when the symptoms become frequent and severe, impacting daily life.

The initial management for gastric acid reflux includes lifestyle modifications (like dietary changes, weight management, and avoiding triggering foods), over-the-counter or prescription medications (such as antacids, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors), and in severe cases, surgical interventions to strengthen the LES or correct anatomical issues.

It’s important to seek medical advice if you suspect you have GERD, as untreated or poorly managed gastric acid reflux can lead to complications such as esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus), esophageal strictures (narrowing of the esophagus), and even an increased risk of esophageal cancer over time.

What Medicines Are Being Used For Gastric Acid Reflux For Years?

Several types of medications are used to treat gastric acid reflux (GERD) and its symptoms. These medications aim to reduce stomach acid production, neutralize acid, and alleviate discomfort. Here’s a list of common medicines used for GERD:

  1. Antacids: These over-the-counter medications provide quick relief by neutralizing stomach acid. Examples include Tums, Rolaids, and Maalox.
  2. H2 Blockers (Histamine-2 Receptor Antagonists): H2 blockers reduce the production of stomach acid by blocking histamine receptors in the stomach lining. Examples include: Ranitidine (Zantac) Famotidine (Pepcid) Cimetidine (Tagamet) Nizatidine (Axid)
  3. Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs): PPIs are potent medications that significantly reduce stomach acid production by blocking the proton pump in stomach cells. Examples include: Omeprazole (Prilosec) Esomeprazole (Nexium) Lansoprazole (Prevacid) Pantoprazole (Protonix) Rabeprazole (Aciphex)
  4. Prokinetics: These medications improve the movement of food through the digestive tract, reducing the risk of reflux. One common prokinetic used for gastric acid reflux is Metoclopramide (Reglan).
  5. Foaming Agents: Medications like Alginate (Gaviscon) create a foam barrier on top of the stomach contents to prevent acid reflux.
  6. Combination Medications: Some medications combine an antacid with an acid reducer for dual relief. For instance, Maalox Total Relief is an example of a combination medication.
  7. Prescription-Strength Antacids: Stronger antacids, like sucralfate (Carafate), are sometimes prescribed to form a protective coating in the stomach and esophagus.
  8. Surgery and Procedures: In severe cases of gastric acid reflux that don’t respond to medications, surgical interventions may be considered. Fundoplication is a common surgical procedure that reinforces the lower esophageal sphincter.

It’s important to note that the choice of medication depends on the severity of symptoms, the individual’s response to treatment, and any underlying medical conditions. A healthcare professional should be consulted to determine the most appropriate medication regimen for gastric acid reflux. Additionally, lifestyle modifications, such as dietary changes and weight management, often complement medication therapy for effective GERD management.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a degenerative condition that affects cognitive abilities, memory, and reasoning. 
The types of Dementia are Alzheimer's Disease, Vascular, Lewy body, Fronto-parietal and Mixed type of Dementia. All of these have characteristic of cognitive derangement. Alzheimer's Disease in most common type.

It’s characterized by a decline in memory recall, problem-solving skills, and communication abilities. Individuals with dementia often struggle to perform daily tasks and experience personality changes. The condition progresses over time, impacting an individual’s independence and quality of life. Early diagnosis and interventions are crucial for managing symptoms, and improving the quality of life for both those with dementia and their caregivers.

What New Study Says?

As per study author Kamakshi Lakshminarayan, (MBBS, PhD), of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, also a member of the AAN (American Academy of Neurology) previously few studies shown that long-term use of PPIs(Proton Pump Inhibitors) is associated with easy bone fractures, stroke and kidney diseases.

“But still, some people take these drugs regularly, so we examined if they are linked to a higher risk of dementia. While we did not find a link with short-term use, we did find a higher risk of dementia associated with long-term use of these drugs.”

They studied 5712 peoples with age more than 45 years who didn't have Dementia at the start of study. The average age of participant was 75 years. Out of them 1490 people took PPIs and 4222 didn't took them. All of them were followed for a perios of 5.5 years. Then at the end of the study it was observed that the people who took PPIs for more than 4.4 years had 33% higher risk of developing Dementia than the people who never took the drugs.

Considering the limitations of the study Laksminarayan said that more research is needed to confirm the findings and explore reasons for the possible correlation between prolonged use of PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) and the risk of dementia,

Conclusion :

People who have Gastric Acid Reflux and take long-term medicines (Proton Pump Inhibitors) like Omeprazole, Esomeprazole, Lansoprazole, Pantoprazole, and Rabeprazole are at higher risk of developing Dementia.

FAQs :

  1. What is dementia?
    Dementia is a term for a group of cognitive disorders that affect memory, thinking, and daily functioning. It’s not a normal part of aging but is caused by various diseases.
  2. What are the signs of dementia?
    Signs include memory loss, confusion, difficulty with communication, trouble completing familiar tasks, and changes in mood or personality.
  3. Can dementia be cured?
    No, there’s no cure for most types of dementia.
  4. How can dementia be prevented?
    While not guaranteed, a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, a balanced diet, mental stimulation, and social engagement might help reduce the risk.
  5. How can I support someone with dementia?
    Create a safe environment, establish routines, communicate clearly, encourage activities, and seek professional help and caregiver support

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