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Dr Russ Blog - Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) and You
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) and You
Created on 10/22/2013

It is common for someone to receive a prescription for drug therapy to aid in the management of a chronic health condition.

It is also common for that person to assume they need to be on that medication for the rest of their life. And in many instances that is the best thing to do to stay well.

But in other circumstances, it's not. One such case may be the use of proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, which shut down acid release in the stomach and thereby help with conditions associated with excessive stomach acid or damage due to inappropriate exposure to stomach acid.

There are many disorders where this is the case, and PPIs are often very effective at addressing asociated symptoms. But perhaps the most common reason for a physician to prescribe a PPI is for the treatment of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) - symptoms of which can include heartburn and frequent belching, among others. Usually GERD is due to stomach acid slipping into the lower esophagus (the "food tube" that leads from your mouth to your stomach) when it should only be present in the stomach.

Some people with GERD, and other digestive disorders, really do need to stay on their PPI.

Others, however, don't. And if you're taking a PPI for GERD you should ask your doctor if and when you can stop.


Because concerns have been raised about the long term safety of using PPIs - including an increased risk of intestinal infections, broken bones, pneumonia, nutrient deficiencies, and even heart disease.

There are many ways to help minimize mild to moderate GERD including cutting back on caffeine, managing stress effectively, and eating smaller meals throughout the day. PPIs may have a place in GERD management, too, but in most instances short-term use is best.

Be aware of a major bummer - coming off a PPI after using it for more than a few months may actually worsen your heartburn symptoms for 7-10 days before you feel better again.

Keep in mind that many people on PPIs are best served by staying on them, where the benefit to health far outweighs any risk, but the best way to find out is to ask your doctor what is best for YOU.

There's a chance you may be told it's fine to discontinue the PPI. And that can be a good thing.

Be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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