There are several quite effective medications that help people deal with acid reflux, from over-the-counter antacids to prescription proton pump inhibitors. Once patients find something that allows them to sleep at night or enjoy decadent meals without heartburn, there's a temptation to continue to take it for years at a time. After all, if they stop taking that daily pill, the symptoms will return, right?
While there are some patients who experience acid reflux or heartburn on a daily basis, most people only have flare-ups occasionally. These people are just wasting money and putting themselves at risk for long-term side effects. The side effects include an increased risk of pneumonia, gastrointestinal infections and osteoporosis and bone fractures [source: Jaret]. While doctors stress that these drugs are safe and that the long-term side effects are worth the gamble for people with severe acid reflux, most people can get by just taking a pill when symptoms begin or before indulging in the kind of meal that typically brings on acid reflux. Talk to your doctor to figure out your best option.