TYLER, TX (KLTV) - If you take heartburn medication like Nexium or Prilosec, federal health regulators warn it could be taking a toll on your bones.
Pharmacist Jeff Abeldt says stomach-acid drugs like Prevacid and Prilosec have become more popular.
"It allows us to kind of eat what we want to eat," said Abeldt.
They are also now readily available.
"Especially now that they're over the counter," he said. "I feel like that's probably the reason this has come out."
He is referring to new FDA mandated warning labels, advising users take these heartburn drugs no longer than 14 days. The FDA bases this on six studies that show a greater risk for bone fractures - especially if you have taken the drugs for several years.
"People need to talk to their doctor if they're taking it more than 14 days," said Dr. Bryan Lowery with Trinity Mother Frances. "If you're having more problems with acid or reflux then you might have an ulcer or some other kind of problem that needs to be evaluated."
Dr. Lowery says cutting back on these is especially important for those over 50 since the risk of brittle bones is higher.
"I think it's always been a theoretical risk because of calcium absorption with decreasing levels of acid in our system," said Dr. Lowery.
If you have acid reflux problems and want to wean yourself off these medications, Dr. Lowery suggests first exercising to shed pounds and cut down on certain triggers like caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods. He says the cheapest treatment is simply elevating your head at night.
"You can raise your bed by just two inches and it makes a difference," said Dr. Lowery. "Put blocks underneath your bed."
If they work for you, he also says substituting histamine blockers like Zantac and Pepcid are safer.