Your Acid Reflux Drugs Could Be Making You Forgetful

Acid reflux drugs, such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), can cause forgetfulness and other cognitive problems. Learn about the risks, symptoms, and what you can do to protect your memory.

Isabella Ramirez

9/1/20232 min read

If you’re like millions of people around the world, you take acid reflux drugs to relieve the burning pain of heartburn. But did you know that taking these drugs for a long time could increase your risk of dementia?

A recent study published in the journal Neurology found that people who took proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for more than 4.5 years had a 33% higher risk of developing dementia than people who didn’t take these drugs. PPIs are the most common type of acid reflux medication, and they work by reducing the amount of acid produced in your stomach.

The researchers aren’t sure why PPIs might increase the risk of dementia. One possibility is that they disrupt the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is important for the growth and maintenance of brain cells, and its deficiency has been linked to dementia.

Another possibility is that PPIs can lead to inflammation in the brain. Inflammation is a known risk factor for dementia, and it’s possible that PPIs could contribute to inflammation by increasing the levels of a molecule called zonulin. Zonulin is a protein that helps regulate the passage of nutrients and fluids between the gut and the bloodstream. When zonulin levels are too high, it can lead to inflammation in the brain.

Here are some tips for managing acid reflux without medication:

  • Eat smaller meals more often.

  • Avoid foods that trigger your acid reflux, such as fatty foods, spicy foods, and acidic foods.

  • Don’t eat within 3 hours of bedtime.

  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.

  • Quit smoking.

  • Elevate your head when you sleep.

If you’re taking PPIs, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the risks of long-term use. You may want to consider other ways to manage your acid reflux, such as lifestyle changes.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind:

  • The study that found the link between PPIs and dementia was observational, which means it can’t prove that PPIs caused the dementia. More research is needed to confirm this link and to understand the underlying mechanisms.

  • If you have been taking PPIs for a long time, don’t stop taking them suddenly. Talk to your doctor about how to gradually taper off your medication.

Watch the video below to learn home remedies to cure acid reflux.

Heartburn No More - Video Presentation