With around 10 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes and many more showing signs of prediabetes, scientists have worked overtime to find new treatment options that could help with symptom management for millions of people. Now, promising new research shows that an over-the-counter medicine you can find at practically any drugstore may be the answer to some relief for people who have the condition.
In a new study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, scientists created a meta-analysis of 12 previous studies looking at the connection between blood sugar levels and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are common types of antacids (think Prilosec OTC or Prevacid 24-Hour) that decrease the amount of acid produced in your stomach lining. They’re often used to stop the formation of ulcers and similar gastrointestinal issues. In looking at this previous research, researchers discovered that participants who’d taken PPIs as part of a diabetes treatment regimen had lower blood sugar levels than those who didn’t. They think that by regulating stomach acids and compounds, PPIs end up aiding in increasing insulin resistance and response, which in turn keeps glucose in check and diabetes symptoms at bay.
However, researchers caution anyone from taking antacids as a way to lessen their diabetes symptoms without speaking to a doctor first. It may not be the best treatment to start out with for symptom relief and is often used in tandem with other prescribed medications. Moreover, their research concluded that while antacids help with blood sugar levels, they shouldn’t be taken for months or years at a time. (Many over-the-counter antacids are a two-week course of treatment.) Scientists are still working out what the optimal treatment length is, but they say that consuming antacids regularly for too long could lead to cognitive problems, gastrointestinal discomfort, and a bigger risk of kidney disease.
Given that roughly one in 10 Americans have diabetes, it’s exciting to know that there are new — and less expensive — treatment avenues that could help with managing symptoms.