Does gabapentin cause heartburn? (3+ tips that might help)

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In this blog post, we are going to answer the question, “Does gabapentin cause heartburn?”. Gabapentin is a gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) analog and is used for a number of conditions. 

However, this medicine can cause a number of side effects including heartburn and acid reflux. This blog will also cover some tips that can help you get rid of the acid reflux. 

Does gabapentin cause heartburn?

Yes, gabapentin can cause heartburn and acid reflux. It is considered one of the most commonly reported side effects of gabapentin and it can be managed. 

However, some case studies revealed an extreme heartburn, which led to the discontinuation of treatment with this medication. There’s one thing to bear in mind that the effects of every medicine are unique to every individual. 

Some people may suffer from mild acid reflux which can be managed easily, while others suffer from excruciating stomach pain and they can’t seem to eat properly, which leads to weakness and weight loss. 

What are the treatment options for getting rid of gabapentin induced heartburn? 

Gabapentin induced heartburn can be controlled with the use of over-the-counter acid reducers. These medications include:

Histamine-2 (H2) blockers

Histamine-2-blockers are also used to relieve heartburn. These OTC meds inhibit the production of gastric acid. They can prevent acid reflux and heartburn for up to several hours.

H2 blockers can interact with other medications, so make sure you ask your healthcare provider before using them. These include:

  • Cimetidine 
  • Famotidine (Pepcid AC)
  • Rimantadine
  • Zantac 360
  • Nizatidine

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)

Proton pump inhibitors or PPIs are also used to inhibit stomach acid secretion. These meds are used worldwide to treat heartburn and indigestion. They are also given in combination with antacids for better results. 

These include:

  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
  • Esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • Omeprazole (Risek)

Antacids 

Antacids are widely used to relieve heartburn. They are alkaline in nature and once inside your stomach, they neutralise gastric acid. Common OTC antacids include:

  • Magnesium hydroxide, also called milk of magnesia.
  • Aluminium hydroxide gel (Alternagel)
  • Calcium carbonate (Alka-Seltzer)
  • Gaviscon
  • Pepto-Bismol

Note: Do not take antacids and gabapentin at the same time. Antacids may alter the absorption and metabolism of gabapentin. Make sure you ask your doctor before using antacids with gabapentin. 

All of these over-the-counter medicines can relieve the symptoms of heartburn. If you have more severe heartburn symptoms that won’t go away after 2-3 weeks of using gabapentin.

If they are not relieved even after the use of above-mentioned OTC medications, you need to consult your healthcare provider. It could also mean that it’s time to switch to another medication. 

What are the helpful tips that can help control your heartburn and acidity? 

Following are a few tips which can help you manage your acid levels. These include:

Make a habit of walking at least a mile after dinner 

Studies suggest that going for a short walk after dinner can help your body to produce more digestive enzymes and makes your stomach absorb the nutrients from your food. 

It improves your digestion and reduces bloating, acid reflux, constipation and provides relaxation from several other gastrointestinal problems. 

Add milk and yoghurt in your diet

Milk and yoghurt are well known to provide relief from gastric acidity. Yoghurt also contains lactobacillus, which is a probiotic, also known as ‘good bacteria’. This good bacteria can improve your digestion and can manage excessive acid secretion in your stomach. 

Cut back on spicy foods 

It is a known fact that food can taste pretty bland without spice and your favourite seasonings, but spicy food can mess up your stomach and is the most common cause of heartburn in people who add high amounts of spices in their foods. Make sure you cut back on spicy food, at least for a while. 

Don’t eat dinner before going to bed 

Studies suggest that you should be done with dinner at least 3 hours before you go to bed. When you lie down on bed, the process of digestion gets slower. So you need to digest your food before you go to sleep. 

According to one study, eating a late-night meal can increase acid exposure when lying down by 5%, compared with eating earlier in the evening.

Eat in smaller, more frequent portions 

Do not fill your plate up. It puts a burden on your stomach to digest large amounts of food at one time. Instead, try to eat in smaller, more frequent meals. 

Try to maintain a healthy weight

Maintaining a moderate body weight can help reduce acid reflux in the long term. Some studies suggest that people who have excess belly fat are more likely to suffer from gastric acid reflux. 

Follow a low carb diet

Some researchers suspected that undigested carbs may cause bacterial overgrowth and increased pressure inside the abdomen, which could contribute to acid reflux. Having high amounts of undigested carbs in your stomach can cause flatulence and bloating. 

Don’t drink too much alcohol 

Alcohol can exacerbate your acid reflux and heartburn. It’s best to avoid drinking too much alcohol, as it affects you negatively in more ways than you can imagine.

Limit your caffeine intake

Caffeine is often found associated with acid reflux. Studies suggest that high caffeine intake can cause gastrointestinal problems like acid reflux, diarrhoea, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) etc. 

It can also exacerbate the symptoms in those who already have GERD or peptic ulcer.

Limit the intake of carbonated beverages 

Studies have observed that regular consumption of carbonated or fizzy beverages, including soft drinks, club soda, and seltzer, could be linked to a higher risk of acid reflux. 

One study found that carbonated soft drinks can worsen certain acid reflux symptoms, like heartburn, fullness, and burping. 

This is because carbonated beverages make your burp more, that can increase the amount of acid escaping your stomach and irritating your oesophagus, throat and mouth. 

Don’t go heavy on citric juices

All citrus fruits contain ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, which could cause indigestion if you consume them in large amounts. Grapefruit juice and orange juice are considered the most common triggers for heartburn and acid reflux. 

How to ensure the proper use of gabapentin? 

Immediately talk to your healthcare provider if you experience unusual side effects while taking gabapentin. Do not recommend this drug to someone else and use it as long as your doctor has advised. 

Inform your doctor if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive. It is extremely important to ensure safety of your meds during your pregnancy. Some meds can cross placenta and are capable of causing unwanted side effects in the growing fetus. 

Inform your doctor if you’re a breastfeeding mother. Gabapentin may be capable of passing into the breastmilk and may cause side effects in newborns. 

Do not stop gabapentin abruptly. If it’s time for you to stop this med, your doctor will simply recommend a taper schedule for you, which should be followed vigilantly if you wish to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. 

Make sure you use this medication or any other medication only when your doctor has advised it. Using medications which can affect your brain is not something ideal and should not be encouraged unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. 

Make sure you discuss everything in detail with your healthcare provider and ask if you’re at the best possible dose of gabapentin. Also inform your doctor if you’re taking any other medication. 

Drug interactions should be an important consideration before taking two or more medicines together. 

Conclusion 

In this blog post, we have discussed gabapentin induced heartburn and acid reflux. Gabapentin is a gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) analog and is used for a number of conditions. However, this medicine can cause a number of side effects including heartburn and acid reflux. 

It is considered one of the most commonly reported side effects of gabapentin and it can be managed. However, some case studies revealed an extreme heartburn, which led to the discontinuation of treatment with this medication. 

Make sure you discuss everything in detail with your healthcare provider and ask if you’re at the best possible dose of gabapentin.

FAQs: Does gabapentin cause heartburn 

Does gabapentin affect acid reflux?

Yes, gabapentin can cause heartburn and acid reflux. It is considered one of the most commonly reported side effects of gabapentin and it can be managed. However, some case studies revealed an extreme heartburn, which led to the discontinuation of treatment with this medication.

What is the most common side effect of gabapentin?

The most common side effects of gabapentin include:

  • Xerostomia or dry mouth 
  • Weight gain 
  • Dizziness 
  • Somnolence
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Headache
  • Vision problems 
  • Cloudy mind
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors 
  • Confusion
  • Joint pain 
  • Difficulty in remembering things
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Unsteadiness
  • Muscle twitching 
  • Constipation 
  • Back pain
  • Increased appetite 
  • Fever

What happens if you take antacids with gabapentin?

Do not take antacids and gabapentin at the same time. Antacids may alter the absorption and metabolism of gabapentin. Make sure you ask your doctor before using antacids with gabapentin. 

What kind of antacid can I take with gabapentin?

You should avoid taking antacids with gabapentin. However, you can use H2 receptor blockers. Examples include:

  • Cimetidine 
  • Famotidine (Pepcid AC)
  • Rimantadine
  • Zantac 360
  • Nizatidine

You can also use Proton pump inhibitors. Examples include:

  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
  • Esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • Omeprazole (Risek)

Can you take gabapentin forever?

The duration of your treatment with gabapentin depends on the severity of your condition and how well you can tolerate this medication. Some people can not stand the long-term treatment because of the disturbing side effects, whereas others can function really well with this medication and they can use it for years. 

What drugs should not be taken with gabapentin?

  • Narcotic analgesics: Both narcotic opioid analgesics and gabapentin decrease the amount of excitatory neurotransmitters in your brain. This can slow down your physiological functions including breathing rate. 
  • Alcohol can also act as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. The synergistic effects of alcohol and gabapentin can cause severe depression and suicidal behavior.
  • Certain diabetic agents may react with gabapentin and cause increased water retention, which results in swelling or edema in upper and lower extremities, or any other part of the body.

What does gabapentin do to a person?

Gabapentin is a gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) analog. Gabapentin mimics the actions of GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. GABA works by inhibiting the excessive neuronal firing in the brain which reduces the frequency of epileptic seizures. 

Gabapentin is also used to reduce the intensity of neuropathic pain by inhibiting nociceptors (pain receptors). This medication is a prescription medication and should be taken only at doses determined by your healthcare professional. 

References 

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