When Medications Cause Heartburn

Beware of the most common triggers.

Sponsored By: PRILOSEC OTC ®

When Medications Cause Heartburn

First things first: Never stop taking any prescription medication without your doctor’s consent.

Here are some of the medications that are commonly linked to heartburn.

Asthma Medications

Medications used to treat asthma and breathing difficulties can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), making it easier for stomach acid to reflux into the esophagus. Asthma medications administered by an inhaler, such as fluticasone (Flovent®) and mometasone furoate (Asmanex® Twisthaler®), may be less problematic than oral theophylline (Theo-Dur®).

Heart and Blood Pressure Medications

Medications used to treat the heart and blood pressure, such as calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, alpha-blockers and nitrates, relax the LES and increase reflux of stomach juices into the esophagus, possibly contributing to heartburn.

Some examples of these medications:

  • Calcium channel blockers: diltiazem hydrochloride (Cardizem®) or nifedipine (Procardia®)
  • Beta-blockers: propranolol hydrochloride (Inderal®) or atenolol (Tenormin®)
  • Alpha-blockers: prazosin hydrochloride (Minipress®)
  • Nitrates: isosorbide dinitrate (Isordil®) or nitroglycerin (Nitrostat®)

Arthritis and Inflammation Medications

Medications used to treat arthritis and inflammation may cause or worsen heartburn. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®) and naproxen sodium (Aleve® or Naprosyn®)—as well as COX-2 inhibitors, such as celecoxib (Celebrex®), are also associated with heartburn. However, individuals who take an occasional or low dose of an NSAID are not as likely to experience this side effect.

Osteoporosis Medications

Medications used to treat osteoporosis may injure the lining of the esophagus and lead to heartburn. Patients taking bisphosphonates, such as alendronate sodium (Fosamax®) or risedronate sodium (Actonel®), and other medications used to treat osteoporosis should drink a full glass of water with every dose and avoid lying down for 30 to 60 minutes afterward. Taking these precautions reduces the risk of injury to the esophagus.

Anxiety, Insomnia, Depression and Pain Medications

Medications used to treat anxiety, insomnia, depression and pain may cause or worsen heartburn by relaxing the LES, making it easier for stomach juices to flow back into the esophagus. These drugs include antianxiety medications and sleep aids, such as diazepam (Valium®) and lorazepam (Ativan®); tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline (Elavil®); and painkilling narcotics, such as merpidine and morphine. One recent study reported a link between heartburn during sleep and benzodiazepines like diazepam and lorazepam.

Parkinson’s Disease and Muscle Spasm Medications

Medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease and muscle spasms may increase reflux and heartburn by causing the LES to relax when it needs to be closed. Specifically, some anti-Parkinson’s medications containing levodopa (Sinemet®) and antispasmodics, such as dicyclomine (Bentyl®) or glycopyrrolate (Robinul®), can worsen heartburn.

Cancer Medications

Medications used to treat cancer may cause heartburn, indigestion and nausea. Patients receiving cancer chemotherapy may require additional medication to relieve these side effects.

Hormones

Hormones such as progesterone, a hormone contained in some birth control pills, may contribute to heartburn by causing the LES to relax.


* Flovent® is a registered trademark of GlaxoSmithKline, Inc. Asmanex® Twisthaler® are registered trademarks of Schering-Plough Corp. Theo-Dur® is a registered trademark of Schering-Plough Corp. Cardizem® is a registered trademark of Biovail Corp. Procardia® is a registered trademark of Pfizer, Inc. Inderal® is a registered trademark of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Tenormin® is a registered trademark of AstraZeneca PLC. Minipress® is a registered trademark of Pfizer, Inc. Isordil® is a registered trademark of Biovail Corp. Nitrostat® is a registered trademark of Pfizer, Inc. Advil® is a registered trademark of Wyeth. Motrin® is a registered trademark of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. Aleve® is a registered trademark of Bayer Corp. Naprosyn® is a registered trademark of Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc. Celebrex® is a registered trademark of Pfizer, Inc. Fosamax® is a registered trademark of Merck & Co., Inc. Actonel® is a registered trademark of Procter & Gamble. Valium® is a registered trademark of Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc. Ativan® is a registered trademark of Biovail Corp. Elavil® is a registered trademark of AstraZeneca PLC. Sinemet® is a registered trademark of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. Bentyl® is a registered trademark of Axcan Scandipharm. Robinul® is a registered trademark of Baxter Healthcare Corp.


The material in this site is intended to be of general informational use and is not intended to constitute medical advice, probable diagnosis or recommended treatments. OTC PPIs are only indicated for treatment of frequent heartburn. For severe heartburn or heartburn that persists after trying over-the-counter treatment or lifestyle modifications, visit your doctor to determine the right treatment for you. See the Terms and Conditions for more information.