Of all the bad things about heartburn, the good news is that it is treatable. Over-the-counter drugs can be purchased easily and cheaply, and often times all it takes to reduce the burn is an antacid after a heavy meal. Indeed, treatment for reflux nearly negates the symptoms.

Proton pump inhibitors are the strongest type of treatment for reflux. If taken properly, proton pump inhibitors are generally safe. However, like all medications, proton pump inhibitors have their issues. One of them is new and startling and deserving of extra attention. It is pneumonia.

In 2004, doctors in the Netherlands, through a study of over 350,000 subjects, established that "gastric acid-suppressive therapy was associated with an increased risk of community-acquired pneumonia."

In 2009, an American study of nearly 64,000 subjects examined the link between acid-suppressive medication and hospital-acquired pneumonia. Again, the results were similar to the first study. Those who used acid-suppressive treatment for reflux increased their odds of hospital-acquired pneumonia by 30 percent. But more interestingly, the authors found "that statistically significant risk was demonstrated only for proton-pump inhibitor use."

What You Should Do

By no means should you avoid completely omit all use of proton pump inhibitors.  Though the subject of serious safety debates, this treatment option have been proven an effective means of treatment for reflux. Consult a doctor if you have questions or concerns about your treatment option. In a word, always be cautious about your treatment options.