How a Receptor Blocker Helps You

November 12, 2012

How a Receptor Blocker Helps You

The use of a receptor blocker can be the difference between relief or extreme discomfort and pain. Sufferers of chronic stomach acid problems often have to plan their lives around the condition.

A common type of receptor blocker is the H2 blocker. This drug targets the receptors for histamine2 and prevents the chemical from signaling the stomach to produce acid. Acid production is an important part of the digestive process and is necessary for the complete breakdown of different foods. When the stomach overproduces acid, the acid can cause damage to the organ resulting in a number of conditions such as peptic ulcers, heartburn, and esophagitis.

How They Work

There are four main cells within the stomach. One of these cells is called the parietal cell and is responsible for creating stomach acid. The body has a number of chemical messengers that will help stimulate the stomach to create acid. In a healthy situation, the messengers cause the body to create just enough acid to meet the body’s needs. Unfortunately, parietal cells are sometimes over-stimulated which leads to a large amount of acid sitting in the stomach. The histamine2 receptor blocker is a medication that binds to the H2 receptor cells. This action prevents the actual histamine chemical from binding to its desired site of action. Without the stimulation, the parietal cells’ acid production is decreased.

There are four drugs in the U.S. that takes advantage of this blocking method:

  • Pepcid

  • Axid

  • Zantac

  • Tagamet

People suffering from stomach acid conditions may already be on one of these medications. In general, there is no major difference between the medications except how each interacts with different drugs. The prescription blockers are more potent than the nonprescription blockers. The difference in potency simply means that it takes less of the prescribed drug to get the desired effect.

PPIs or Receptor Blockers

Chronic sufferers of conditions such as heartburn may have been prescribed either a H2 receptor blocker or a proton pump inhibitor. Is one actually better than the other? The two types of medications both work by suppressing acid production. The major difference is the site of action. The H2 blocker begins working almost immediately because it affects one of the first steps in the acid production process. Unfortunately, the suppression only lasts about 12 hours. The PPIs work near the end of the process by shutting down the stomach’s proton pumps. This means they take longer to work, but their effect on the body can last from one to three days. Your specific condition will determine whether or not one type of medication is better than the other. If you only occasionally have problems which require immediate relief then the receptor blockers are probably better. People with a chronic ailment may want the PPI. Speak with your doctor for what is best for you.

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