APR 28, 2024 4:17 PM PDT

Acid Reflux Drugs Linked to Migraine, Severe Headaches

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Prescription drugs for acid reflux may increase the risk of migraine and severe headaches. The corresponding study was published in Neurology.

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid enters the esophagus, often after a meal or while lying down. Frequent acid reflux can lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can then result in cancer of the esophagus. Acid-reducing drugs include proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s), histamine H2-receptor antagonists (H2RA’s), and antacid supplements. 

In the current study, researchers analyzed data from 11, 818 people from the 1999- 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Data included use of various acid-reducing drugs and the occurrence of migraine or severe headache in the past three months.

Ultimately, the researchers found that use of PPIs, H2RA’s, and generic antacids was linked to a 70%, 40%, and 30% higher incidence of migraine and severe headaches than not using the drugs. 

"Given the wide usage of acid-reducing drugs and these potential implications with migraine, these results warrant further investigation. These drugs are often considered to be overprescribed, and new research has shown other risks tied to long-term use of proton pump inhibitors, such as an increased risk of dementia," said study author Margaret Slavin, PhD, RDN, of the University of Maryland in College Park. 

"It's important to note that many people do need acid-reducing medications to manage acid reflux or other conditions, and people with migraine or severe headache who are taking these drugs or supplements should talk with their doctors about whether they should continue," she added. 

The study has some limitations. First, it shows correlation, not causation. Second, only a small number of people analyzed reported using anti-acid drugs—especially H2RAs. Third, the researchers only examined the use of prescription anti-acid drugs and thus did not account for use of over-the-counter versions in their analysis. 


Sources: Science DailyNeurology

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets.
You May Also Like
Loading Comments...