PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors)

See how long-term use of PPIs/OTCs can mask a more serious problem in this informational video

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Treatment for heartburn and acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), symptoms usually start with medications. One of the more common medications used to treat these symptoms are PPIs, also known as proton pump inhibitors. PPIs reduce the amount of stomach acid by blocking production made by glands in the lining of your stomach.

By reducing the amount of acid in your stomach, PPIs can help relieve acid reflux/GERD symptoms because there is less acid that can flow back into your esophagus. This can also give the esophagus time to heal from damage caused by acid reflux. PPIs have been proven to prevent heartburn as well as reduce the symptoms of asthma, hoarseness, coughing and esophagitis.

PPIs are tablets or capsules and are to be taken by mouth, usually 30 minutes before your first meal of the day. You may be required to take PPIs twice daily; doses vary depending on the severity of your symptoms. Because PPIs need to be taken with food to be activated, some people might still experience heartburn and acid reflux symptoms at night. Your doctor may suggest adding an H2 blocker before going to bed to help relieve these symptoms while you sleep.

Types of PPIs

  • Aciphex (rabeprazole)
  • Dexilant (dexlansoprazole)
  • Nexium (esomeprazole)
  • Prevacid (lansoprazole)
  • Prilosec (omeprazole)
  • Protonix (pantoprazole)

Prilosec and Prevacid are available over-the-counter. While you can get these medications without needing a prescription, do not take PPIs for occasional heartburn. PPIs are meant to relieve chronic issues with acid reflux/GERD. For occasional heartburn, there are other over-the-counter medications such as antacids or H2 blockers that help relieve those symptoms.

If 4 to 8 weeks of twice-daily PPI therapy is unsuccessful, further investigation with an endoscopy is recommended.

Talk to your doctor before taking these medications if you are pregnant or if you may be taking other medications. PPIs may change the way certain drugs work, especially anti-seizure medicines and blood thinners.